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Green vision

This morning I chanced upon some interesting documents that set out the vision for the UK of Friends of the Earth. The docs are FoE's contribution to the 2050 Calculator site set up by DECC's former chief scientist David Mackay a few years ago. The site allows users to set down how they think the UK's energy mix should be achieved in the future.

In the graph below (click for larger), we can see that FoE believe that we are going to reduce demand by 30% or so, which strikes me as optimistic. More interestingly they seem to have recognised that we are going to need standby gas powered generation right through to 2050. However, in their wisdom, they seem to think that three quarters of this gas should be imported rather than produced locally. Their stance on oil is similar. Given their stance on unconventional gas this is probably the only choice, but the conclusion must be that FoE believe that when calculating the trade off between environmental posturing and carbon emissions, it is environmental posturing that should win out.

So much for caring about the planet.

Also interesting is the effect of FoE's plans on the the landscape. Here is the 2050 calculator's estimates of the amount of land required:

As you can see, FoE want quite extraordinary areas of land to be handed over to renewable energy production. From the map, it's around 40,000 square kilometres.

One assumes therefore that a very large proportion of our food will be imported too. Or at least so you would think, but unfortunately FoE think we should be growing and producing food locally too.

Perhaps they think that mass starvation is the way forward?

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Reader Comments (15)

The way that energy-intensive industry is shutting up shop in the UK, a 30% reduction's probably achievable!

Nov 4, 2015 at 10:33 AM | Unregistered CommenterAdam Gallon

There are announcements that two companies are closing down their manufacturing plants in Northern Ireland as a consequence of high energy costs ( Michelin and JTI Gallacher). About 1000 jobs will be lost

Nov 4, 2015 at 11:17 AM | Unregistered CommenterSpectator

Not so long ago I dug out the figures from OFGEM for the median household usage of electricity.
They produce 3 figures: low, medium and high usage households. Between 2003 and 2014 the low usage households used a bit less electricity, the median used the same and the high usage actually increased.

Over the same period lighting moved from incandescent to CFL and LED, TV's moved from CRT to LED, restrictions were imposed on the maximum power of some household items, and many other measures were introduced.

If domestic electricity use showed such little change when there were so many measures introduced how can anybody expect a 30% reduction in the future?

Nov 4, 2015 at 11:22 AM | Unregistered CommenterTerryS

...Perhaps they think that mass starvation is the way forward?...

No. They think three things:

1 - Mathematics is a plot contrived by dead white males to subjugate our foreign brethren of colour. Consequently any negative projections can be arbitrarily ignored, while supportive mathematical arguments can be justifiably built by ignoring the basic rules of this discipline.

2 - Engineering technology is a similar racist and Nazi discipline, as can readily be seen from the fact that the Engineering faculties of universities are mainly comprised of men who like drinking and playing Rugby. Consequently the same projections can be applied - negative engineering findings can be ignored, while supportive engineering technologies can be assumed to be readily deliverable, even if they breach accepted engineering capabilities.

3 - In any case, fewer people is a 'green' ambition.

Nov 4, 2015 at 11:24 AM | Unregistered CommenterDodgy Geezer

Regarding agricultural land that actually produces food rather than biomass, it must also be remembered that the UK's population is projected to grow from today's 65m to 76m by 2050.

Nov 4, 2015 at 11:26 AM | Unregistered CommenterJoe Public

"FoE believe that we are going to reduce demand by 30% or so, ....."

C'mon - that's not too onerous an expectation. The EU simply mandates that kettles, hair dryers, ovens etc have their maximum power demand reduced by 30%.


Nov 4, 2015 at 11:31 AM | Unregistered CommenterJoe Public

Figures quoted by Friends of the Earth, are guaranteed to be 97% unbelievable. Friends of the Earth believe that 97% of the population don't know this.

Friends of the Earth have a belief system that is unsustainable, without gullible financial backing.

Nov 4, 2015 at 12:28 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

@Dodgy Geezer

you haven't perchance been following DeepGreenResistance have you? The Twitter feeds are a hoot - if you enjoy unintended black humor....

When I first saw it I though " that's a bit OTT for a spoof account ! " - but as the realisation that they are serious sank in ...

Commenter stewgreen seems to think they're an agent provocateur CIA op - which actually would not surprise me - but unhinged is certainly one word that springs to mind.

FoE are farcical and beyond parody - trouble is - uninspired , lazy politicians are even worse at the moment.

Nov 4, 2015 at 12:32 PM | Registered Commentertomo

Joe Public et al

Demand is no longer defined as what we want/need; it is defined as what they intend to allow us, hence the introduction of Smart Meters. I do not have a smart meter and access to my standard meter is protected by a 7 foot sturdy fence.

Nov 4, 2015 at 12:35 PM | Registered CommenterDung


...@Dodgy Geezer

you haven't perchance been following DeepGreenResistance have you? The Twitter feeds are a hoot - if you enjoy unintended black humor.......

Nope - I just know one, and I have simply paraphrased her attitude to scientific understanding...

Nov 4, 2015 at 12:53 PM | Unregistered CommenterDodgy Geezer

FoE fantasies will be broken on the wheel of human nature. The local Sainsbury's has already stopped vigorously policing their stash of 5p plastic bags and I have seen people taking them without paying.

Nov 4, 2015 at 1:50 PM | Unregistered Commentermichael hart


National grid needs an additional 500 megawatts between 16.30 and 18.30 today from somewhere.

Nov 4, 2015 at 2:45 PM | Unregistered CommenterTerryS

They call themselves Friends of the Earth, yet go all out to remove the two things that the earth needs to grow - CO2 and warmth.

From that I can only assume they want the earth to be a lifeless rocky ball and consider Mars to be ideal.

Nov 4, 2015 at 4:41 PM | Unregistered Commenterivan

In the graph below (click for larger), we can see that FoE believe that we are going to reduce demand by 30% or so, which strikes me as optimistic.

Optimistic? Outright fantasy I would suggest.

One element that many 'pundits' don't seem to address is that reducing 'Carbon emissions' by X by time Y will also involve something much more unpopular (because it's easier to see) than playing with (current) electricity prices. That being the move of UK transport and heating over to our 'low carbon future'.

This will not reduce anything by 30%. If we need 60GW right at this moment then imagine what we will need once every car and home heating system is powered by electricity.

According to NETA, Wind (4.5K turbines at great expense) has produced some 1.3% of our needs over the last 24 hours. Solar can be safely ignored and 'Bio Fuel' (cutting down American Forest and shipping it to Yorkshire) is a non-starter (once the subsidy has run out) .

Temps are falling tonight and demand will increase. Good thing that my heating system is currently Gas and my Car still uses Petrol (Gas for Americans).

Nov 4, 2015 at 6:24 PM | Unregistered Commenter3x2

Currently, wind's providing 0.69GW, less than 2% of demand. Installed capacity is around 13GW.

Nov 4, 2015 at 9:00 PM | Unregistered CommenterAdam Gallon

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