By Paul Homewood
As I mentioned the other day, the Committee on Climate Change have sent me their detailed costings for the Fifth Carbon Budget.
Part of these are the projected strike prices for various forms of renewable energy between now and 2030. By comparing these with the predicted wholesale electricity prices, the CCC is able to work out how much extra renewable energy will cost the country.
Of particular interest are the prices for wind and solar power. We are regularly told that technology is driving down costs so quickly that wind and solar will soon be cheaper than conventional sources, such as CCGT.
The CCC’s projections suggest otherwise!
By Paul Homewood
Welcome to the latest barrage of lies and misinformation from the BBC:
This week I went to the scene of terrible tragedy.
A river, swollen by raging monsoon floodwaters, had torn down a bridge on the main road between Mumbai and Goa.
More than 30 people are thought to have died when the great stone structure crashed into the torrent, taking with it two buses and a number of cars.
Some of the bodies were swept more than 60 miles downriver in two days.
By Paul Homewood
Jennifer Marohasy launches a scathing take down of overrated TV scientist, Brian Cox:
Celebrity physicist Brian Cox misled the ABC TV Q&A audience on at least 3 points-of-fact on Monday night. This is typical of the direction that much of science is taking. Richard Horton, the current editor of the medical journal, The Lancet, recently stated that, "The case against science is straightforward: much of the scientific literature, perhaps half, may simply be untrue."
By Paul Homewood
A much more sensible piece from AEP, this time on nuclear power developments:
It is hard to imagine now, but Britain once led the nuclear revolution.
Ernest Rutherford first broke the nuclei of atoms at Manchester University in 1917. Our Queen opened the world’s first nuclear power plant in 1956 at Calder Hall.
Such were the halcyon days of British atomic confidence, before defeatism took hold and free market ideology was pushed to pedantic extremes.
Most of Britain’s ageing reactors will be phased out over the next decade, leaving a gaping hole in electricity supply. By historic irony the country has drifted into a position where it now depends on an ailing state-owned French company to build its two reactors at Hinkley Point, with help from the Chinese Communist Party.
By Paul Homewood
While Al Gore is blaming the Louisiana floods on global warming, Michaels and Knappenberger introduce some inconvenient facts:
We’ve got a lot cover this week, so let’s get right to it.
On the science front, we want to highlight two new papers that both suggest that attributing heavy precipitation events in the United States to human-caused climate change is a fool’s errand (not that there aren’t plenty of fools running around out there). This is a timely topic to explore with the big rains in Louisiana over the weekend leading the news coverage.
One paper by a research team from the University of Iowa found that “the stronger storms are not getting stronger” and that there has not been any change in the seasonality of heavy rainfall events by examining trends in the magnitude, frequency, and seasonality of heavy rainfall events in the United States. They did report that the frequency of heavy rain events was increasing across much of the United States, with the exception of the Northwest. As to the reason behind the observed patterns, the authors write “[o]ur findings indicate that the climate variability of both the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans can exert a large control on the precipitation frequency and magnitude over the contiguous USA.”
The other paper, from a research team led by NOAA/GFDL’s Karin van der Wiel, examined climate model projections and observed trends in heavy precipitation events across the United States and concludes:
Finally, the observed record and historical model experiments were used to investigate changes in the recent past. In part because of large intrinsic variability, no evidence was found for changes in extreme precipitation attributable to climate change in the available observed record.
Pretty emphatic and straightforward summary.
So, the next time you read that such and such extreme precipitation event was made worse by global warming, you’ll know that there is precious little actual science to back that up.
We’ll note that the more astute science writers are actually familiar with findings like these but rather than fess-up about them, they prefer to further the climate change narrative through the use of weasel words like “is consistent with” expectations from climate change. This particularly useful phrase encompasses virtually all possibilities and allows every weather event to be linked to the nefarious burning of fossil fuels. And we do mean every—bad or good. But in practice, it is reserved by the media to be applied only to bad events or trends. For good-seeming goings-on, “dumb luck” is the preferred descriptor, despite plenty of science that could be used to show that good things, too, “are consistent with climate change expectations.” Go figure.
By Paul Homewood
The GWPF responds to Ambrose Evans-Pritchard’s recent articles on renewable energy:
There is excitement in one prominent part of the UK press regarding the prospects for a new generation of low-cost offshore wind, and for a near-term breakthrough in electricity storage. Is this justified, or just wishful thinking?
The upbeat tone of two recent articles by Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, one on the promise of electricity storage technologies and the other discussing claimed reductions in offshore wind costs, will come as no surprise to his regular readers. As long ago as April 2008 he published a strikingly similar piece on the benefits of Spanish wind power, “Spain’s Gain from Windpower is Plain to See”. The following is a representative sample:
Years of nurture by the Spanish government have paid off. Spain is a global superpower in the wind race, with 15,000 MW of capacity. The region of Navarra is 70pc green, shielded against gas-shocks, Russian politics and soaring oil prices.
However, as was in fact evident at the time, the Spanish renewables policies were already showing signs of failure. The subsidies were vast and insupportable, amounting to €3 billion of state backed debt in 2008, doubling in the following year and continuing to balloon thereafter. Dramatic cuts were inevitable. Furthermore, and unsurprisingly given the subsidies, Spain’s indigenous wind industry was a hothouse plant and uncompetitive with manufacturers in Germany and Denmark, let alone China, and as a result one of its leading lights, Gamesa, has now been absorbed by Siemens.
As for Mr Evans-Pritchard’s suggestion that Spain had protected itself against gas shocks and soaring oil prices, we all know how that has worked out; fossil prices are extremely low and the relative cost of the subsidised renewables is mind-bogglingly high. The insurance policy was exorbitantly expensive, and in fact offered no cover at all. Evans-Pritchard was perfectly well aware of this danger and wrote:
If the prices of oil and gas fall sharply – and stay low – as they did in the 1980s and again in the late 1990s, the huge gamble on renewables may prove a costly flop. But demand suggests that is unlikely to happen.
But far from recognising or perhaps even remembering the logic of these earlier remarks on fossil prices, in his latest articles he simply evades the issue of the ‘costly flop’ and repeats the claims of the earlier piece, namely that the capital costs of renewable generation are falling fast, that solutions to intermittency are just around the corner, and that the future already belongs to renewables.
However, none of these claims survives closer inspection quite intact, or seems more likely to be a successful general prophecy than his 2008 predictions of enduringly high oil and gas prices.
Beginning with the first, Evans-Pritchard remarks of offshore wind that “Costs are coming down faster than almost anybody thought possible”, and that this progress is “akin to gains in US shale fracking”, with the implication that the technology will become economically competitive in short order. But, as everyone familiar with the field knows, there is much more to the cost of electricity from wind power than the capital expenditure on the turbines. Namely, wind power also entails a) the cost of extensive grid infrastructure, b) the cost of rapid response plant to deal with errors in the wind forecast, and c) the cost of running an under-utilised but undiminished conventional fleet equivalent to peak load plus a margin to guarantee security of supply, for example on a cold windless winter’s afternoon when the UK’s wind fleet will be all but totally becalmed. (Evans-Pritchard, as it happens, claims that such calm conditions are very rare, but his source for this view is an obsolete 2004 study, the conclusions of which have been shown to be largely mistaken by subsequent data and power flow modelling.)
As a result, even if the CAPEX of offshore wind (and onshore turbines, for that matter) falls to £0/MW installed, the system costs will ensure that the cost of the energy generated is more expensive to consumers than energy from Combined Cycle Gas Turbines at current gas prices.
It is obvious, then, that reducing the system costs is a prime requirement, and in response Evans-Pritchard would doubtless point to his second article, on electricity storage and say that a resolution is near at hand. But is it?
Evans-Pritchard bases his optimism on the US Department of Energy’s ARPA-E, GRIDS Program, which is supporting intensive work on the storage of electrical energy, with the principal aim, amongst others, of reducing the capital cost of the storage volume to less than $100/kWh (current costs for most technologies are five to ten times that).
There is no question that GRIDS is interesting, even important, but neither the program’s current achievements, nor its ambitions, support the hyperbole of Evans-Pritchard’s suggestion that the “Holy Grail of energy policy [is] in sight as battery technology smashes the old order”. As is obvious from the heavy involvement of the Federal Government, there is a very long way to go before storage begins to be spontaneously economically attractive. This is a research project; not an investment prospect.
The first thing to note is that the GRIDS target figure of $100/kWh (£77) is still extremely expensive. The US Department of Energy estimates the market for electrical storage to assist with the short term problems arising from the present relatively low levels renewables would require a storage capacity of 5 GWh, which at $100/kWh would cost about $500 million dollars. And 5 GWh is not a very large volume of electrical energy. The UK consumes annually about 300,000 GWh, an average of about 1000 GWh a day.
So the capital cost of the volume, even assuming that the GRIDS Project is successful in reducing those costs, would still be high. Recovering such a capital expenditure at a reasonable cost per unit of electricity stored requires frequent utilisation of the equipment over its lifetime. Indeed, the US Department of Energy itself estimates that 5,000 cycles over a ten year lifetime, i.e. more than one charge discharge cycle per day, would be necessary to bring the premium cost, i.e. the cost over the cost of unstored electricity, down to about 2.5 cents per kWh.
5,000 cycles over ten years is a high level of utilisation, and such cycling is in itself a very demanding requirement; not all technologies will be able to take that strain without degradation of power or storage capacity. Indeed, such resilience is another aim of the GRIDS program.
Furthermore, frequent utilisation is a serious limiting factor if the equipment is to work with renewables, since it means that storage can only assist with intermittency over short time scales, where the are numerous occasions for charge-discharge cycles, and will not be able to address the larger, and much less frequent macro-cycles to which Evans-Pritchard refers when he correctly notes that it is much windier in some seasons than others. In other words, while you might want to smooth wind power output over a year by storing some of the UK’s winter wind for summer use, the cost per kWh of a single charge discharge cycle would mean that the capital cost of $100/kWh of volume would have to be recovered from that one cycle per year, over say a ten year lifetime, meaning that each kWh stored would cost at least $10/kWh to the consumer. This is extremely expensive (upwards of 40 times the UK retail price), and in reality the cost would be rather higher, since the stored electricity would itself have to be paid for, as would the Operation and Maintenance of the storage device.
Frequent charge-discharge cycles are therefore essential to bring the unit cost of electricity stored down to reasonable levels. But that means addressing the frequent short-term problems, over seconds, minutes, and hours, not the larger but less frequent scales of variability, extending over days, weeks and months, and seasons, that are also a significant concern, and where the large potential volumes for storage actually lie.
Thus, even if these 80–90% cost reductions can be achieved, and that is a major undertaking, the remedies that such technologies can supply to the intermittency of renewable energy will be limited in character and volume, and, in spite of the cost reductions, still relatively expensive, particularly in a world of low fossil fuel prices. There is some, modest, long-term promise here, but anyone reading Mr Evans-Pritchard’s articles and concluding that the world’s energy woes were on the point of solution, and he himself encourages this with a rousing call to “Rejoice”, would have been seriously misled.
By Paul Homewood
I know I sipped a bit of whisky last week, but I thought I had not imagined it!
There were several forecasts from the Met Office about how warm it would turn, come the middle of this week. This is what their blog had to say last week:
For the weekend, the high pressure means many places should enjoy some periods of sunshine and temperatures a few degrees above average. However, in the north there will still be some unsettled weather around, especially on Saturday.
After that and there is the potential for things to turn hot for the beginning of next week. Deputy Chief Operational Meteorologist Laura Paterson said: “An area of low pressure looks likely to drag air up from the south across the UK. Despite being a week ahead, temperatures of 30-32°C look more likely than not across some southern parts of the UK on Monday and Tuesday and there is a chance that even northern parts of the UK could see temperatures into the high 20s Celsius. Next week’s hotter weather does not look likely to last for long though with a thundery breakdown and eventual transition to cooler conditions expected by around the middle of the week.”
Oh good, thought I, shivering in the glens, at least we can have a barbie when I get home.
Even as recently as Sunday. the Telegraph was still forecasting:
But where oh where did the promised heatwave go?
Now to be fair, it has been pleasantly warm and sunny, and I did get my barbie, but nothing like the heatwave forecast. Just the sort of weather you would normally expect to see in August.
According to the Met Office, the highest temperatures recorded on Tuesday and Wednesday were 26.9C and 27.4C, both at Kinlochewe, deep in the Torridon mountains of the Scottish Highlands. A glance at the map suggests this may have been due to a Fohn effect.
Certainly many parts of the country never got anywhere near 27C, and the weather has already started going downhill.
Either way, the Met Office forecast of 32C was a long way from reality.
By Paul Homewood
We’ve been discussing interconnectors with Norway, as a way of getting “clean, cheap, reliable energy”, according to a letter in today’s Telegraph from the Norwegian Wind Energy Association.
Much of the UK’s offshore wind industry is operated by Statoil and Statkraft, the state owned energy companies. It may come as some surprise, therefore, to learn that Norway itself produces no more than a pittance of wind power.
These are the primary energy consumption numbers from BP for last year:
Renewable energy, which is virtually all wind, only accounts for 1.3% of total energy. (BP classify hydro separately).
In terms of electricity generation, wind contributes just 1.7%.
It seems that Statoil and Statkraft are very partial to UK subsidies, but don’t rate wind power enough to build them at home!
By Paul Homewood
When complete, the windfarm will deliver up to 1,800 megawatts of low carbon electricity to around 1.8 million UK homes.
The windfarm would create up to 1,960 construction jobs and 580 operational and maintenance jobs. If built to the full capacity, the investment would total around £6bn providing a great opportunity for economic growth in the Humber region and beyond.
Business and Energy Secretary Greg Clark said:
The UK’s offshore wind industry has grown at an extraordinary rate over the last few years, and is a fundamental part of our plans to build a clean, affordable, secure energy system.
Britain is a global leader in offshore wind, and we’re determined to be one of the leading destinations for investment in renewable energy, which means jobs and economic growth right across the country.
Located approximately 89km off the Yorkshire coast, the windfarm will comprise up to 300 wind turbines and will connect to the grid at North Killingholme in North Lincolnshire.
The Government is making £730m of financial support available for renewable electricity generation this Parliament, sending a clear signal that the UK is open for business. We expect 10GW of offshore wind installed by the end of this decade and could see up to 10GW of new offshore wind in the 2020s as costs come down.
Hornsea will be capable of producing about 6TWh a year. It has already been awarded a Contract for Difference of £140/MWh, at 2012 prices. At current prices, this is worth £148.06, representing a subsidy of about £105/MWh against the present market price.
At these prices, the annual subsidy would be £630 million, or £9450 million over the life of the 15-year contract.
Hornsea is being developed by SMart Wind Ltd, a wholly owned subsidiary of DONG.
By Paul Homewood
From Climate Change Dispatch:
Has anyone looked at the recent National Aeronautics and Space Administration Goddard Institute for Space Studies (NASA GISS) Surface Temperature Analysis? A chart of it was used in a recent Australian Broadcasting Company debate on global warming to make the case that surface temperatures have risen continuously during the past 20 years.
There’s a pretty blatant problem with the NASA chart, however. And it’s a fault that anyone with even a cursory knowledge of climate studies would recognize.
The NASA GISS analysis essentially eliminates the 1998 El Niño. Instead of the ’98 El Niño towering above neighboring years, thanks to its massive release of stored Pacific Ocean heat content, 1998 is simply depicted as one rung on an ever-climbing temperature ladder. And then, suddenly, there’s 2016, with an El Niño that explodes far above all of the preceding years.
If one hasn’t studied any recent climate data, then the chart looks plausible. After all, it was produced by NASA…
But the NASA GISS analysis contradicts every other recent measure of global temperatures. Specifically, the 1998 El Niño produced a major spike in temperature readings and one that the 2016 El Niño has been hard-pressed to beat. (An intervening El Niño in 2010 was far smaller by comparison.) But net global temperatures essentially flatlined in the intervening period of 1998-2016.
None of this is discernible in the NASA GISS analysis, however. And so, it’s disturbing that NASA is promoting such a graph—and that climate alarmists are using it without either knowing or caring that it is based on a very distorted representation of temperature data.
This sort of deception isn’t a complete surprise, though, given the questionable study published last year by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). But it reveals the degree to which academic and government elites will pursue their own agenda at the expense of institutional honesty.