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Wheels coming off

In Germany, the shift to renewables has led to rises in both energy prices and in carbon emissions.

The fields carpeted with solar panels and the North Sea wind farms may have gratified the green conceits of Germany’s middle class but they have come at a terrible economic and social cost. According to Nature, the international science magazine, this year German consumers will be forced to pay €20bn (£17bn) to subsidise electricity from solar, wind and bio-gas plants, power with a real market price of €3bn.

In the UK, a big renewables company has announced that it is halving its investment levels in the UK and the Liberal Democrat minister responsible for business has said that the soaring price of energy that his own party's policies have caused is having a hugely detrimental effect on industry.

The insanity that has gripped the Westminster village is going to have very, very serious repercussions.

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Reader Comments (42)

Three countries governments trumpeting the good things that come from ''renewables'', America, Spain and Germany, also commissioned studies about this money waste by their best universities. All stated that renewables were not the answer to creating jobs, every 2 created lost 5 real jobs, neither were they the answer to generating energy since such energy was never available when required at a price that was competitive.

Jan 17, 2014 at 11:15 AM | Unregistered CommenterJohn Marshall

One tiny bit of good news is that the FiT subsidy for individual wind turbines and small wind farms (<5MW) is likely to come down by 20% on 1st April; hence the current rush by greedy developers. However, we all know that the long term subsidy via contracts for difference is going to remain at a very high level for both onshore and ofshore wind farms. We will be having ever increasing electricity bills for many years to come. We can but hope that the accelerated wear tear and the poor performance of wind turbines and solar panels will save us from the worst effects of the renewable energy scam.

Jan 17, 2014 at 11:33 AM | Registered CommenterPhillip Bratby

Insanity indeed. The following piece of profundity from Cable (via your 'detrimental' link above) would have been a useful input from him ahead of the vote on the Climate Change Act when he could usefully have noted that the Act must lead, by whatever mechanisms chosen, to increased energy costs:

Cable added that the carbon price floor, a tax on fossil fuels used to generate electricity that energy firms pass on to consumers, is “pricing in a disadvantage to UK producers”.

It would have been even better, but far too much to hope for, if he had noted that shutting down British industry entirely and with immediate effect would have no detectable effect on temperatures according to the facile algorithms of the IPCC.

Jan 17, 2014 at 11:37 AM | Registered CommenterJohn Shade

It is just amazing what is going on here in Ireland, although rural Ireland has woken up to what is coming its direction and its political masters are just bad mouthing back, see for instance from today's Irish Times:

"Speaking to The Irish Times, Minister for Communications, Energy and National Resources Pat Rabbitte said any weakening of EU commitment “would not lead to a shift in domestic policy with respect to renewable electricity generation.”

“Irish renewable energy policy imposes no significant cost on consumers as we have abundant wind resources that generate power at an economic rate,” he said.

“When one puts the reduction in spending on imports of gas, oil and coal into the balance, our renewable energy policy is a no-brainer,” he added".

So I wrote back in with the following ,don't know if it will be published:

The ‘no brainer’

Pat Rabbitte states to the Irish Times (17th Jan) that: “When one puts the reduction in spending on imports of gas, oil and coal into the balance, our renewable energy policy is a no-brainer”. This must be put in the context that the public has a right to accurate and up to date environmental information.

As has been clarified before by this writer, the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) Aarhus Convention Compliance Committee has ruled that the EU did not ensure that Ireland complied with the terms of the Convention in relation to this renewable energy programme. As Ireland and the EU are not complying with its recommendations, to ensure that the public are provided with the necessary information and an opportunity for effective participation in the decision-making when all options are open, UNECE is now engaged in compliance measures through International law.

Furthermore, this matter is part of proceedings in my name against the State in the High Court. Some of the necessary information, which should be provided to the public, is that while as Minister Rabbitte often points out, we annually import some €6 billion of fossil fuels, the reality is that less than a sixth of this goes on electricity generation. If we keep rushing into generating some 40% of our electricity by wind, the power stations which we still need, as wind on average doesn’t blow strongly enough, will now be operating very inefficiently in start / stop mode. Just like your car in the city, as opposed to steady motorway driving; the fuel consumption goes up.

So at best we will save about €200 million a year in imported fossil fuel, but have to invest well over €20 billion in some three thousand wind turbines, 6,000 km of new transmissions lines, interconnectors, smart meters, new fast response power stations, etc. Naturally these will have to be imported. Personally I would like to be properly informed on these issues and not have the royal ‘we’, of Minister Rabitte and his insiders, decide these issues in such a legally non-compliant manner, particularly when there are such obvious ‘no-brainers’ involved.


Pat Swords BE CEng FIChemE CEnv MIEMA

Jan 17, 2014 at 11:44 AM | Unregistered CommenterPat Swords

Pat Swords - I would be very interested to know whether the UK has also failed to provide the up to date environmental information concerning its programme of renewable energy. Your comment about the need to provide back up is absolutely right.

Jan 17, 2014 at 11:58 AM | Unregistered CommenterDerek

Good grief, Pat Swords: I come on here and bat about inanities with lesser souls, then you come with this! Have you any idea how lowly it makes us feel? Keep up the good work, sir, and be assured that the more ignorant (such as myself) are gradually learning the full import of the catastrophe we are heading towards, courtesy of government “policy” (or should that be “government” policy? You choose). Let us hope and pray that you are having a similar effect upon minds that are more firmly shut than mine.

Jan 17, 2014 at 11:58 AM | Unregistered CommenterRadical Rodent

According to Nature, the international science magazine.

What !! The internation SciFi Comic.

Jan 17, 2014 at 12:35 PM | Unregistered CommenterStephen Richards

Hindsight is a wonderful thing but some of us had foresight and were just ignored or abused. Hopefully they might start to question more severely the scientific basis behind it all.

Jan 17, 2014 at 12:39 PM | Unregistered CommenterJamesG

In Germany they manage to estimate costs. Where is the estimate of the UK costs?
From my analysis of the is at least £4bn a year and rising by well over 10% a year. £2bn of this is in R/O credits for such things as offshore windfarms, and wooden pellets for coal-fired power stations (Ironbridge and Drax B). There is also the separate cost of infrastructure to tranmit all the power from distant locations like Caithness across Britain.
On top of that is the regulatory costs such as energy efficiency stickers for buildings.
But proper cost estimates of the breakdown and growth would need extensive research.

Jan 17, 2014 at 12:44 PM | Unregistered CommenterKevin Marshall


The UK has indeed been highly productive in providing false information on the effectiveness of its renewable energy in achieving actual emissions reductions. This was raised in the Compliance Committee proceedings against the UK in ACCC/C/2012/68, which lead to the UK National Renewable Energy Action Plan (NREAP) being ruled non-compliant with the Convention:

However, the Compliance Committee as lawyers came to the conclusion that they were not technically qualified to judge on such issues and that they would address other issues of non-compliance instead. To me this was somewhat annoying, as in the Committee hearing in December 2012, the barrister representing the UK started rattling on about modelled emissions and how it had all been demonstrated, etc, etc. If you actually care to read the information in the above, the famous model that she was referring to doesn't even know how each individual power station will behave; plus ca change.

It was also interesting that Jean-François Brakeland, the Head of Legal Enforcement at the Directorate General (DG) Environment of the EU Commission, when being questioned on giving information to the public about carbon emissions made a series of dismissive comments including, memorably, “If we were to take instead of a 110 m high wind turbine a 110 m high metal statue of Mickey Mouse, you would not be expected to do a detailed carbon assessment on that, so why do you expect a detailed carbon assessment for the wind turbine?"

To me that really sums it up, as over 100,000 MW of wind energy have been installed in the EU and there is zero information as to verified emission savings. In fact the work that some Irish and other engineers have done looking at our system, is the closest which we come to knowing what is going on. On a pro bono basis, Dr Joe Wheatley, Biospherica Risk Ltd, completed an analysis of the CO2 performance of the Irish grid based on the modelled emissions available from Eirgrd, in order to better analyse the inefficiencies on the grid with increasing amounts of wind input. This was presented in March 2013 at a Seminar organised by the Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI)

Jan 17, 2014 at 12:47 PM | Unregistered CommenterPat Swords

Meanwhile on the east coast of Canada . . .

Jan 17, 2014 at 12:47 PM | Unregistered Commenterbarn E. rubble

“Just because it was published in Nature doesn't make it wrong" the now classic quote runs

Jan 17, 2014 at 12:50 PM | Registered Commenterstewgreen

"The insanity that has gripped the Westminster village is going to have very, very serious repercussions."

For us. The ordinary people.

Those responsible for the ‘science’ and the policy that flowed from it: UEA, Friends of the Earth, Greenpeace, Milliband, Worthington etc will suffer zero consequences, financial or otherwise. They will all continue to earn large sums of money and retire and comfortable pensions. Most of them convinced that they were right all along.

Jan 17, 2014 at 12:51 PM | Unregistered CommenterStuck-Record

Masterful letter, Pat Swords; succinctly put and with great clarity. Who could not understand that? I hope it is published, but I suppose it depends on the 'position' the Irish Times takes.

There seems to be fewer applications for wind turbines in my neck of the woods, but a massive increase in solar farm applications and I dread to think what our countryside will look like when more of these cover our landscape. There is one on the A303 near the Tidworth turning, highly visible from the hill above Amesbury as you descend eastwards towards the turning - shocking. Meanwhile, the numpties at Climate Week are still proclaiming that we should write to the Prime Minister urging continued compliance with the Climate Change Act, the biggest parliamentary folly of all time.

Which party will be brave enough to advocate its repeal?

Jan 17, 2014 at 12:57 PM | Unregistered CommenterGrumpy

According to Nature, the international science magazine, this year German consumers will be forced to pay €20bn (£17bn) to subsidise electricity from solar, wind and bio-gas plants, power with a real market price of €3bn.

That's a pretty shocking statistic. Pity that Nature's reputation is down there with the Sunday Sport ;-)

Its with some trepidation that I post this here....

Excess Winter Deaths in England and Wales

"In conclusion, our society has become wealthier, healthier and older without us noticing. There are many good reasons to criticise government policy, but excess winter deaths does not seem to be one of them."

Jan 17, 2014 at 12:58 PM | Registered CommenterEuan Mearns

So - nPower is planning to sell off half of 700MW of its onshore wind farm projects, and 'considering an option to sell its £200m Markinch biomassplant at Fife - WHICH IS JUST ABOUT TO COME ONLINE' (my capitals)...

Any prospective investors, form an orderly queue...

Hello - anybody there..? Hello...?

Jan 17, 2014 at 1:32 PM | Unregistered CommenterSherlock1

Our local planners (hah!) have recently approved a bio-digester plant nearby, and the promoters have already admitted that it will rely on subsidies for its survival. I wonder if they will still be available by the time it's finished...?

Jan 17, 2014 at 1:40 PM | Registered Commenterjamesp

Pat Swords

>obvious ‘no-brainers’

Ouch! :-)

Jan 17, 2014 at 1:46 PM | Registered Commenterjamesp

Sherlock1: npower has already sold off some of its wind farms and has stopped developing others. It can see which way the wind is blowing and how poorly its existing wind farms are performing compared to what was originally predicted.

Jan 17, 2014 at 1:57 PM | Registered CommenterPhillip Bratby


There's another solar farm on the A303 halfway up the Ilminster bypass, just before the Taunton Road turnoff...and a frustrating road to drive on to boot (hello Westminster, maybe you should make it a dual carriageway?). I always think of the person or company that owns that land. They must make a tidy sum.

A bit off topic but I'm sitting in my house watching Bloomberg TV and there's an ad segment about Greenpeace. Kumi Naidoo (International Executive Director) is standing on a boat about to go measure the Arctic Sea ice (which at the time of filming is at its lowest)

But then he goes on to lie directly to camera - "the sea ice is at its lowest in human history"


Marty McFly a mate of yours?

Now back on topic - this kind of unsubstantiated claim is taken as fact by most viewers (It's on TV it must be true) and similarly this drivel that somehow renewables are a better option is taken as a given because enough people in the media are saying so. Think then of the ballache that it takes to actually get data to show if this is correct or not and that's the uphill fight.

Pat probably appreciates it more than most.

Jan 17, 2014 at 2:03 PM | Unregistered CommenterMicky H Corbett

"So - nPower is planning to sell off half of 700MW of its onshore wind farm projects"
Thus relieving themselves of the necessity to remove the trash at a point in the next 20 years when they become, for a variety of reasons, uneconomic.
At which point the independent purpose built investment vehicles call in the liquidators and after years of argument the tax payer gets stuffed for the clean up. Again.
Those taxpayers who are about to retire at that time will suffer a double whammy as their pension pot, invested by their provider, takes a hit for the cost of the by then worthless shares that a green minded pension fund manager is purchasing with your contributions as I write.
This spiffing wheeze does not form part of the comprehensive school curriculum, but a cynicism born from 74 years of world weary observations makes the suspicion that "stuffing the populace" is a core subject at Public Schools, totally compelling.

Jan 17, 2014 at 2:39 PM | Unregistered Commenterroger

MickyH Corbett: adverts are covered by advertising standards. If its untruthful you can probably complain to advertising standards and with some hope of it being checked out. If Greenpeace cannot substantiate the claim they would probably have to withdraw the advert or change it.

Jan 17, 2014 at 2:48 PM | Unregistered CommenterThinkingScientist

@ThinkingScientist - I wouldn't bet on it. With Common Purpose infiltrators running all public and so-called third sector institutions, regulatory authorities included, "truthiness" is far more important than actual truth - "false but accurate" as someone cleverer than me once said.

As I become more advanced in years it becomes ever more clear to me we are living through the pale afterglow of the rational enlightenment. Oddly the decline of organised religion seems to be hastening the process.

Jan 17, 2014 at 2:58 PM | Unregistered CommenterSebastian Weetabix

RWE appears to be in financial difficulty. They're also selling off RWE-DEA, their oil arm, in order to try to raise some cash. Initial bids of around €4bn are allegedly lowball.

Jan 17, 2014 at 3:04 PM | Unregistered CommenterIt doesn't add up...

@grumpy - the answer to your last question is UKIP. Whether this makes you feel any better is another matter.

Jan 17, 2014 at 3:15 PM | Unregistered CommenterMarion

You have to admit that Angela Merkel is a canny operator.
In forming her latest coalition with the SPD she has given their boss a "super minister" role with responsibility for energy AND the economy.
Talk about a poison chalice!

Jan 17, 2014 at 4:06 PM | Registered Commentermikeh

My key question is : why do we keep allowing socialists/marxists/fascists/ nazis/communists/greens/progressives and all the other names for leftwing lunatics, any where near the levers of power? What is the matter with us that we ignore the consequence of accommodating people with a world view based on hatred?

Jan 17, 2014 at 4:27 PM | Unregistered Commenterjohn in cheshire

Pat Swords - you are my hero.
Hang in there.

Jan 17, 2014 at 4:45 PM | Unregistered CommenterJud

Micky H Corbett - I haven't driven the Ilminster by-pass for a while and so haven't seen that solar farm. There is a large house on the south side which was, or still is, owned by Somerset CC and was, or still is, their conference centre. I am not sure how much land they owned with the house, or if that is where the solar farm is. Might be interesting to find out, but as with other councils I suspect they would take full advantage of FITs (ie tax payers money) for their own benefit. Makes them as bad as other troughers (individuals and companies) taking our money in my view.

Marion - UKIP - As a paid up member of the Conservative party, I should be voting blue, but what I do in the polling booth is an entirely different matter.................

Jan 17, 2014 at 8:04 PM | Unregistered CommenterGrumpy

barn E. rubble posted an interesting link to an article on the problems with wind turbines in the Canadian Atlantic coast province of Prince Edward Island. One sentence caught my eye.

Instead, the wind turbines generated a third of what the board was originally told, about $10,500 during two years.

Do Greens ever tell the truth about wind power?

Jan 17, 2014 at 9:11 PM | Unregistered CommenterRoy


'Germany’s will risk losing its big industries unless they are sheltered from the cost burden of renewable energy, its economy minister said while restating his commitment to a shift to low carbon fuel.

In December, the European Commission, the EU executive, announced it would investigate Germany’s management of subsidies and the discounts given to heavy industry on renewable energy surcharges.

That has raised fears within industry that its costs will rise, when it is already struggling to compete. The enquiry has also alarmed environmentalists, who say Germany’s shift towards renewable energy is in danger.

“We must ensure in Germany that energy-intensive industry remains unburdened by the EEG law (Germany’s renewable energy law),” Economy Minister Sigmar Gabriel told reporters during a trip to Brussels to meet Commission officials.'

Great tranches of Germany's exporters are sheltered from the green energy costs...which has further raised bills for consumers...six million are having issues with the cost of 'subsidies and discounts' are passed on to the other consumers both business and, above all, private. Those who have a roof space and access to credit have covered their south facing roofs with solar panels to claw back through the guaranteed feed in tarifs...but now those have been reduced...crunch time ahead..

The triumph of green ideology...and the

Jan 17, 2014 at 9:14 PM | Unregistered CommenterRGH

Blades comming off might be more appropriate, Bish

Jan 17, 2014 at 9:18 PM | Unregistered CommenterStephen Richards

"Wheels coming off"

This radical energy policy has never really had wheels. I can only see chains to halt the economy?

Jan 18, 2014 at 9:09 AM | Unregistered CommenterJon

Out grandson, nearly 3 years old, was hooked into cartoon TV which was telling him "your electric power comes from big windmills."
At which point does propaganda to the young become actionable?

Jan 18, 2014 at 9:24 AM | Unregistered CommenterGeoff Sherrington

"At which point does propaganda to the young become actionable?"

The day before the law is changed to make propaganda to the young compulsory.

Jan 18, 2014 at 10:16 AM | Unregistered CommenterMax Roberts

Well, it's good times in Germany for us drillers since they shut down the nukes.

Several geothermal and gas storage projects, (publicly funded, woo hoo!) and pretty much every one of Germany's meagre oil and gas fields is being extended or developed in the best future.

Jan 18, 2014 at 12:35 PM | Unregistered Commenterkellydown

"Near future" - damn swipe keyboard.

Jan 18, 2014 at 12:40 PM | Unregistered Commenterkellydown

If Vince Cable is suddenly waking up to the unsustainable burdens on UK industry which energy costs are causing, maybe he should have a quiet word with Ed (when I lean forward and screw my face up to appear sincere, I look like Les Dawson) Davey, about his continuing lunatic energy policies...

Jan 18, 2014 at 2:46 PM | Unregistered CommenterSherlock1

On the BBC News website,rather tucked away (of course), is a feature entitled: 'Has the sun gone to sleep?' This article implies that it may be going into another 'Maunder Minimum', with all the implications of cold, snowy winters (pictures of a Frost Fair on the Thames and a snowy winter scene)..
Surely this is in direct contradiction to the 'global warming' meme..? Should this article not be shut down immediately, as not being 'on message'..?
We demand to know the truth...

Jan 18, 2014 at 3:06 PM | Unregistered CommenterSherlock1

Jan 18, 2014 at 3:06 PM | Sherlock1

I read that article and was quite amused by the contortions used to imply that global warming was still on track. The Sun, as they seem to believe at the BBC, doesn't have the clout, ultimately, to overpower the relentless warming effect of a trace gas. Unbelievable scientific ignorance masquerading as journalism.

Jan 18, 2014 at 7:11 PM | Unregistered CommenterSteve Jones

The BBC piece is here: "Is our Sun falling silent?"

Contains this BS:

"It's an unusually rapid decline," explains Prof Lockwood. ... "We estimate that within about 40 years or so there is a 10% to 20% - nearer 20% - probability that we'll be back in Maunder Minimum conditions."

I would love to help check the calculations that resulted in the "10% - 20% probability" of "Maunder Minimum conditions". Why do these people make stuff up? Why not admit ignorance - it's the first step towards discovery.

Jan 18, 2014 at 9:30 PM | Unregistered CommenterJack Hughes

When the grid crashes there won't be aywhere those who caused the crash can hide. They better have their private jets on standby all the time.

Jan 19, 2014 at 5:47 AM | Unregistered CommenterBarbara

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