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Mackay and King on shale

David Mackay, chief scientist at DECC, and David King, Foreign Secretary's climate change adviser will give evidence to the Lords' Economic Affairs Committee on shale gas this afternoon at 3:30pm. The video will appear below.

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Reader Comments (15)

Honestly, what could go wrong?????


Jan 7, 2014 at 8:33 AM | Unregistered CommenterMailman

Meanwhile, the Guardian continues its metamorphosis into the Turbine Lobby at prayer. From today's edition:

The UK wind industry has had its best-ever period, setting daily, weekly and monthly records. Wind turbines generated 2.8m megawatt hours (MWh) of electricity for the National Grid in December – enough to power more than 5.7m homes – and wind has supplied 10% or more of Britain's total electricity demand for homes since 1 December. In the week before Christmas, wind provided 13% of Britain's total electricity needs and on 21 December, a record 17% of the nation's total electricity demand was met by turbines.

Some of the increased wind power was because Britain had ramped up its capacity to generate wind power in 2013, but the exceptionally windy weather also helped, says industry body RenewableUK. Most turbines used to switch off automatically in strong winds but newer models cope much better, it says.

"We expect records to be set more frequently as extreme weather becomes more normal, and as giant new offshore windfarms are built and commissioned. Our target is to generate 15% of all energy from renewables by 2020. To do that we need to generate about 30% of UK electricty from wind. With six years to go, we are on target. This weather shows that wind power is working," said a spokesman.

The problem is that it shows the exact opposite. What it shows is that wind power generation can fluctuate in winter between zero and dangerously high levels.

If we were buying contracts for power on the open market, we would be choosing between one source of supply, fossil fuel or nuclear. These operators would offer us 24 x 7 with 98% uptime and narrow limits of fluctuation of delivery. The other source of supply would be wind, who would offer us supply with the ability to vary delivery at their discretion and with a few days notice betwen zero and max output. Then we would take bids from solar which would offer us power between roughly 9 am and 5 pm in the winter.

In these conditions, wind generation contracts would probably be priced at 10% of conventional, and solar probably similar. And the suppliers would have to assume the costs of delivery infrastructure.

Its simply a nonsense to say this is meeting X% of the country's electricity needs when the supply cannot be counted on to be there when you need it.

Its a marketing truism that there are few or no pure commodities, because part of the product specification is delivery and service and the surround. In the same way there is no such thing as 'electricity' or 'megawatt hours' because a key product feature is consistency and assured supply and not all megawatt hours are the same in this respect.

Jan 7, 2014 at 8:34 AM | Unregistered Commentermichel

I'm sure David King is a nice person, but "Foreign Secretary's climate change adviser" is a job/title that should not exist.

There you go George Osborne, I bet that is 100K I've just saved you. Probably a lot more.
You're welcome.

Jan 7, 2014 at 8:39 AM | Unregistered Commentermichaelhart

""David Mackay, chief scientist at DECC, and David King, Foreign Secretary's climate change adviser will give evidence to the Lords' Economic Affairs Committee on shale gas this afternoon""

How many years experience in the production and delivery of shale gas will be brought to the table. None.

Jan 7, 2014 at 11:18 AM | Unregistered CommenterIvor Ward

Total rubbish and typical government committee system, experts giving evidence know zero about the subject. This will put back fracking for years and we want it now.

Jan 7, 2014 at 11:52 AM | Unregistered CommenterJohn Marshall

oops wrong thread

Jan 7, 2014 at 12:19 PM | Registered Commenterstewgreen

Following on from the pointlessness of 'Foreign Secretary's climate change adviser', the entire house of Lords shouldn't exist either.

Jan 7, 2014 at 12:25 PM | Unregistered CommenterJamesG

"wind power is working"

Dear Grauniad - if it's so wonderful, howcome it still needs all those subsidies..?

Jan 7, 2014 at 1:03 PM | Registered Commenterjamesp

Well, in its current politicised form it shouldn't exist! Thanks for that Labour!


Jan 7, 2014 at 3:33 PM | Unregistered CommenterMailman

@michel - 2.8MWh in the whole of December? That must be a typo. Thats about .0038MW average supply, enough to drive a 3 watt bulb.

Cheers -

Jan 7, 2014 at 5:26 PM | Unregistered CommenterSimon\s

So was it the car crash if a wreck of a fact free diatribe we all expected it to be?



Jan 7, 2014 at 5:34 PM | Unregistered CommenterMailman

Does McKay work for Greenpeace or Friends of the Earth? I didn't hear him say who employed him.

Jan 7, 2014 at 7:03 PM | Unregistered CommenterBilly Liar

Simon 5.26pm Doesn't it say 2.8 million MWh?

Jan 7, 2014 at 7:38 PM | Unregistered CommenterAnthony Hanwell

Yes, its 2.8 million. I always read how many households these amounts are supposed to supply, and its a bit like being handed several sides of beef, no refrigeration, and being told great, now you have enough meat to supply you and your family for two years.

Yes, if I could only find some way to store it and eat it when I need it!

Jan 7, 2014 at 7:47 PM | Unregistered Commentermichel

The answer to shale gas exploration in the UK seems to be that if there's any risk it will be regulated. And, joy, we'll have a team of academic consultants to help with that regulation - I imagine along the lines of the Grantham Institute. And we'll even be regulating to protect us from the dangers of radioactive rock being drilled out of the wells!

In other words, we can forget UK shale gas. It isn't going to happen.

Jan 8, 2014 at 11:34 AM | Unregistered CommenterCapell

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