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Prof Grubb’s Misleading Letter To The Times

January 5, 2022

By Paul Homewood

 

h/t Coeur de Lion

This letter appeared in The Times the other day.

It sis stunning just how grossly inaccurate and misleading it is:

 

The MPs calling to reduce electricity bills by removing VAT are looking in the wrong place. Instead we should ask why electricity is so much more expensive than the cheapest and cleanest ways of producing it.
Consumers are paying three to four times the cost of generating electricity from new wind and solar. Last year these renewables generated more than a quarter of our electricity, and nuclear energy and imports another quarter, the cost of transmission and balancing the system is only a modest add-on. Yet our electricity market design ensures that gas sets the price for all consumers, which is what has mainly driven the recent price surge.
We need to redesign the system rules to allow direct consumer access to cheaper, low-carbon electricity and to accelerate expansion of wind energy which, onshore, is the cheapest of all.


Michael Grubb
Professor of Energy and Climate Change UCL

Let’s start with a few basic facts:

 

At the end of last year, forward wholesale power prices were around £110/MWh. Day ahead were much higher, about £190/MWh. Both were around £50/MWh a year ago.

 electricity-prices-forwa

electricity-prices-day-a

With retail prices set at 19p/KWh, it is clear that wholesale prices are the main driver of recent price increases.

Now for Grubb’s assertion that:

Instead we should ask why electricity is so much more expensive than the cheapest and cleanest ways of producing it.
Consumers are paying three to four times the cost of generating electricity from new wind and solar. Last year these renewables generated more than a quarter of our electricity

He talks about “new” wind and solar, but the wind farms he refers are not even up and running yet. Most of them, such as Dogger and Hornsea Project 2 won’t commission for at least two to three years.

The “quarter” of our electricity generated by renewables, which he refers to, are in fact extremely expensive.

The offshore farms currently covered by CfDs and operational have guaranteed strike prices between £88.59 and £176.57/MWh. The weighted average is £159/MWh, which is well above the market price. This huge subsidy is adding to electricity bills.


Strike Price £/Mwh
Triton Knoll 88.59
EA 1 141.63
Beatrice 164.73
Hornsea 164.96
Dudgeon 176.57
Walney 176.57
Burbo Bank 176.57

Most of the UK’s renewable generation, however, is subsidised by Renewable Obligation Certificates (ROCs), which account for a quarter of UK generation. Subsidies to these are running at more than £6bn a year, equivalent to £240 per household.

Wind farms receive the bulk of this subsidy, about £3.6bn. This is of course on top of the revenue they receive for electricity sold. A typical offshore wind farm for example, receives a subsidy of about £95/MWh, effectively doubling the income from sales.

Whether subsidised by CfDs or ROCs, wind and solar farms are paid much more than the market price.

This is the reason why electricity bills are sky high, not the system rules. Indeed, I am sure consumers would be delighted to have their bills based on the price of gas!

29 Comments
  1. January 5, 2022 12:29 pm

    Prof Grubb, just another advocate on the “sustainability” gravy train, masquerading as a scientist. Here is what he is teaching students:

    “On the UCL Masters Course, Economics and Policy of Energy and Environment, I teach a core module on the economics and political economy of energy and climate mitigation policy, based around the book Planetary Economics. The course attracts 80-90 students from around the world each year.

    For the past two years I have taught the Planetary Economics module also at Beihang University in Beijing.”

    Not an ounce of science or engineering in that lot, though sadly that is what the Green Education Blob is turning those subjects into.

    • Mack permalink
      January 5, 2022 2:20 pm

      ‘masquerading as a scientist’?

      He’s an IPCC lead author on ‘mitigation’ I’ll have you know, with a doctorate in….philosophy. Yup, you could be right.

      • Curious George permalink
        January 5, 2022 4:40 pm

        Learn to read newspeak. He teaches the energy mitigation, with a climate mitigation on the side.

  2. Martin Brumby permalink
    January 5, 2022 12:37 pm

    The homonymous Grubb.

    A good example for my contention that many of today’s “Professors” are both less intelligent and certainly less honest than were Lab Technicians, when I was an Engineering undergraduate.

  3. Ian permalink
    January 5, 2022 12:56 pm

    No doubt, Grubb’s “research” is funded by the renewables industry.

  4. January 5, 2022 1:37 pm

    Grubb put out two tweets
    One with link to the Times page
    One with a screenshot .. https://twitter.com/MichaelGrubb9/status/1478670179081068547
    .. 8 supporters quote tweet
    plus 3 supporters reply.. but the one complainer is hidden behind the Show More Replies gate

    • Joe Public permalink
      January 5, 2022 11:55 pm

      The replies in the thread are quite interesting.

  5. January 5, 2022 1:39 pm

    The letter made little impact to Times commenters
    Most talked about 2 other letters : about switching off fixed line phones, and Tony Blair
    13 Likes for the comment opposing Grubb

  6. Coeur de Lion permalink
    January 5, 2022 1:41 pm

    People like Grubb need to be laughed at. Counter-science has no traction against a religion. Who pays his salary? Is that recorded somewhere?

  7. January 5, 2022 1:46 pm

    I can never understand why unreliables are included in the market

    It should have been set differently with bidders agreeing to deliver reliable electricity for a set time
    Nuclear, coal, gas power plants would put in supply bids
    and individually if they want to take a punt on unreliables like wind/solar .. they turn their plant down when their own wind/solar is delivering , such that the corp delivers the flat supply as agreed in the contract

    • January 5, 2022 3:55 pm

      What stewgreen has written, above is fine with me. It is exactly what should be done. So why don’t they diversify, big time, into wind and solar on the building and on their site?

      I thought the whole idea was for unreliable solar to be generated on the roof of the building needing it and, stored in batteries for use when there is sufficient electricity to power the electrical item. It’s called nuclear fusion electricity and, with other renewables/unreliables is all we have when genuine shortages of fossil fuels start putting their price out of reach.

    • Joe Public permalink
      January 6, 2022 12:02 am

      Hi Stew

      Paul posted about Prof Dieter Helm’s 2017 Cost of Energy Review

      “https://notalotofpeopleknowthat.wordpress.com/2017/10/26/excessive-green-taxes-are-forcing-up-fuel-bills-official-review-finds/

      Notably:
      “Feed-in tariffs, contracts for difference and the capacity market auction should all be merged into a unified equivalent firm power (EFP) capacity auction. Low-carbon generators would be forced to bear the costs of their intermittency.”

    • January 6, 2022 5:20 pm

      Why unreliables are included: Luis Alvarez mentioned the energy requirements of antiattack radars, an example of which was installed near Chernobyl. Soviet planners calculated that if the dupes of the plutocracy could be gulled into making electricity unavailable, that outcome was as good as deploying an antiradiation missile, only cheaper and more subtle. Totalitarian habits die hard.

  8. 2hmp permalink
    January 5, 2022 3:28 pm

    People who do slovenly work are ‘grubby’

  9. January 5, 2022 3:30 pm

    Paul, Could you, perhaps send your email/letter to Prof Grubb, asking him to respond and, then post his reply on this site? We need to hear from him, please.

    With my own 6.24 kWp solar array and battery storage, I’m nearly off-grid for electricity with importing under 2kWh per night, averaged out over the year. Is this the right course of action to take, Paul?

    • Harry Passfield permalink
      January 5, 2022 8:04 pm

      Would you be able to charge an EV on this rig?

  10. jimlemaistre permalink
    January 5, 2022 4:25 pm

    That 3.6 billion pounds contributed to Wind farms is enough to remove Over 90 % of the pollution from 6 Coal fired Power generating stations that will last Twice as Long . . .

    How to Clean up Pollution and Save Planet Earth – Belldune New Brunswick

    This power generating station was the first in Canada to install scrubbers to help reduce Sulphur dioxide emissions. It has an electrostatic precipitator that removes over 99% of particles in the flue gases. It has special burners to limit Nitrogen Oxide emissions. An upgrade began in July 2004 which saw a Titan ProAsh facility that recaptures 75% of the fly ash produced by the generating station. Water from the Smoke Stack Scrubbers is recycled. This eliminates the use of a ‘Tailings Pond’. The effluent removed from the water has resulted in the production of a Synthetic Gypsum Byproduct (Drywall) which is then sold, all over North America.

    Belldune Coal Fried Power Generating Station – A Poster Child for Clean Energy!!

    Page 7 . . . https://www.academia.edu/45570971/The_Environmentalist_and_The_Neanderthal

    Plus . . . There is 800 LBS. of Neo Dymium Boron in EVERY wind turbine. More radiation is released every day into the environment from making these Rare Earth magnets than ALL the nuclear reactors in the united states . . . Every Day . . . BBC and Al Jazeera both did documentaries on this.

    https://www.academia.edu/52039545/All_Electricity_Poisons_Planet_Earth

    There is no panacea . . . ALL these attempts to ‘Clean up the Earth’ are little more than shuffling the deck chairs on the Titanic.

    We need to ‘Get Real’ and remove what is ATTACHED to CO2 from burning Fossil Fuels on ALL our industrial infrastructure, if we are at all serious about cleaning up Planet Earth

    CO2 is the ‘Scape Goat’ selected by Environmentalists. This Fetish with CO2 empowers environmentalists to destroy the the production of Fossil Fuels while Human contribution only represents 3 % of Total Annual inputs to the atmosphere . . . The other 97 % comes from Nature. Removing poisonous effluent is Not on the Environmentalist Agenda.

    https://www.academia.edu/51184433/Climate_Change_For_the_21_st_Century

    • Colin permalink
      January 5, 2022 7:23 pm

      Co2 may indeed be a scapegoat, but our 3percent contribution is adding to a closed system and likely is the cause of increasing co2 levels in the atmosphere, whether it significantly affects the climate is another matter. I think people on all sides of this debate need to take a closer look at the Carbon cycle!

      • jimlemaistre permalink
        January 5, 2022 8:20 pm

        Thank you Colin for your reply.

        The ‘Carbon Cycle’ does NOT exist . . . This may sound strange given the attention ‘Carbon’ gets from ALL sides. It has remained ‘Stable’ at 280 PPM throughout the Holocene . . . At least 10,000 years until studies began to demonstrate that it has been rising steadily since Humans began burning vast quantities of fossil fuels since the mid 1700’s . . . James Watt and the invention of the flywheel on steam engines.

        There have been 18 periods of Natural Warming and Natural Cooling absent ANY cycle in CO2

        Only this warming cycle ‘The Modern Warming Period’ is blamed on Carbon. If the other Eight (8) Warming Periods were NOT linked to CO2 in any way, how and why can this Warming Period alone be caused by Carbon ??

        The answer is simple . . . A failure among Environmental propagandists to produce Honest, scientific comparisons to the 8 previous periods of warming in just the last 100,000 years. I do not believe that this is in any way some dark conspiracy . . . It has been an egregious oversite . . . The refusal to review these facts now . . . Who wants to be the ONE to open Pandora’s Box? . . . It would be like pulling Hans Brinker’s finger from the Dyke or Killing the Goose that Lays the Golden Egg . . . The old adage . . There are none so blind as those who will not see . . .

        Trillions of dollars are at steak hanging on ‘Unverifiable’ data supported by 75,000 or more people who have professional credentials as ‘Environmental Scientists’. The parameters for their study were formed over 30 years ago . . . All have studied ‘peer reviewed’ data confirming our current models on climate change . . . Absent one critical fact . . . History proves NO carbon cycles following either warming or cooling for at least 10,000 years. Even the link between Volcanoes and Climate Change, Cold Climate Change has been abandoned.

        Propaganda is soo much easier to sustain without complicating it with too much science, history or fact . . . they keep it simple . . . and everyone believes.

        https://www.academia.edu/49421861/CO2_Cradle_of_Life_on_Planet_Earth

        https://www.academia.edu/51184433/Climate_Change_For_the_21_st_Century

        Finally . . . Human contribution is 3 % added annually to

        CO2 as a percentage of the atmosphere that is 0.04 % of the total content of the atmosphere.

        Led that sink in then do the math . . . how many decimals right of one(1) % is that ??

        Carbon the cause ?? . . . Not a chance !

    • January 5, 2022 8:04 pm

      I thought the idea of reducing our dependency, certainly addiction to finite fossil fuels, was to prepare for the rocketing energy price rises as shortages appear in the coming decades.

      • January 5, 2022 9:34 pm

        No, the idea was to reduce carbon emissions, regardless of cost

    • January 6, 2022 5:21 pm

      “We” Paleface?

  11. Cheshire Red permalink
    January 5, 2022 4:49 pm

    What chance does our country have when highly-connected ‘professors’ lie and misinform about energy cost cause and effect?

  12. Steve Dawes permalink
    January 5, 2022 4:57 pm

    Surely the marginal cost fixes the price hence we pay the cost of always having power available and we need gas to keep the power on

  13. Phoenix44 permalink
    January 5, 2022 9:56 pm

    Why does The Times publish a letter full of clearly false statements?

  14. jimlemaistre permalink
    January 5, 2022 10:13 pm

    Over the last thirty years nothing, Nothing has gained more attention than the Environment and Climate Change. No one subject has attracted more attention than stories related to the nature of our world. In one newspaper it would not be out of the ordinary to find three, four of even five stories on any given day. Since the beginning of the 21st century it would be quite unusual if there was not at least one story published. Where does this come from and why is it so prevalent and so broad based, industry wide. . . Education and the 3 R’s.

    Education from the earliest of years has taught children from all walks of life to Reduce, Re-use and Recycle. By extension, these University Educated Teachers inform their charges of the foul nature of Industry, Pollution and Egregious waste and its eternal effect on Planet Earth. Early, inadvertent, indoctrination builds a resource of supporters for a movement founded on Righteous Indignation. This could never have been anticipated. A movement founded among the masses at a moment of innocence in the human experience. The Multi-Billion-Dollar Industry founded on ‘The 3 R’s’ need not strive for relevance . . . It is the Ruling Doctrine of Our Time!

    Like all creatures of Nature, survival is paramount, with a life well lived – in dignity. The Environmental Movement started strong, has had a good long run and it now is in cruise control, having reached many proud goals along the way. In the past though, decisions to jump to conclusions without full Scientific support may soon be responsible for unwinding the movement with such a Force and Magnitude never before seen in modern Scientific History. As anyone will tell you . . . Lie to me once – I will let it slide . . . twice – I don’t know about you? . . . again? . . . You are Persona-Non-Grata . . . No Reprieve!

    For many, that stage has been reached by the Environmental Movement. Cracks have been appearing in the un-scientific foundations of the movement for years. This New Evolving Science is well founded and comes from Unimpeachable Sources, but as of yet, it has gained no traction among Established Media Voices. Paternalistic dictates and self-preservation tactics are beginning to appear from Leaders of the Environmental Movement. Even the courts are being used to silence those who denounce ‘The Old Bad Science’. Deflection is frequently used to defend the dictates ‘for the common good’. Language with defined Parameters understood only by Scholars had been used to Fudge Facts and Whitewash Semi-Truths and Defuse Attention. Graphs comparing evidence from Scientifically obscure sources were given credence without merit. The data was plausible . . . Not factual. Correlation had been deemed Causation. This type of intellectual meandering between Truth, Plausibility and Fact is NOT at all professional . . . and would not be acceptable in any other field of Science.

    The Truth . . . The Environment as a subject is, Explosive! You speak against its Edicts at your Peril. Accept the truth as prescribed from upon high, or suffer the Scorn and the Ridicule among your peers. Not to mention by society as a whole. Environmentalism is a relatively New Science and it is being truly tested for the first time. If Climategate starting in 2009 is any example, we can only imagine what is yet to come. When that one stone gets overturned proving Collusion and Willful Deception. The un-scientific foundations that have been supporting the Environmental Movement since its inception will render it . . . Null.

    Sadly, to date, no self-respecting Media Representative wants to risk the Ire of their Peers or the Mandarins ruling the Environmental Movement or The Purveyors of Globalization in our New Social Construct. For they are ‘Brothers-in-Arms’, so to speak. Who wants to be the ONE to open Pandora’s Box? . . . It would be like pulling Hans Brinker’s finger from the Dyke or Killing the Goose that Lays the Golden Egg . . . The old adage . . .

    There are none so blind as those who will not see . . .

    From . . . https://www.academia.edu/49676862/Social_Engineering_Environmentalism_and_Globalization_A_New_World_Order

  15. Coeur de Lion permalink
    January 6, 2022 11:11 am

    Alas no sign of Paul’s letter in The Times today. But an incoherent letter from a Tegid Wyn Jones emeritus professor oh god, ‘Route to Net Zero’ where he postulated a future for80% renewables and the rest nuclear and biomass with carbon capture and hydrogen energy storage. That’s just electricity of course. Seems to think Energiewende has been a success. Bring it on, I say! Bring it on! I’ll be dead by then, sadly. Love the dark, you youngsters.

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