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Entries in DECC (37)


Gong with the wind

The New Year's honours list was published last night and as usual I have scanned it looking for familiar names. Strangely, yours truly has been overlooked again.

The sense of shock is almost palpable. 

Still, it has been suggested that the majority of gongs go to failed politicians, to celebs and to civil servants who have merely been doing their jobs. So a knighthood for David Mackay was probably inevitable, although I don't suppose anyone will begrudge him: he was certainly the most level-headed occupant of the chief scientist's office at DECC for many a year. Ed Davey's knighthood was just a case of the normal gongs for failure that politicians expect.

More interesting was the award of an OBE to Emily Shuckburgh for services to science communication. I must say this rather took me aback. I've met Emily and she's bright and charming, but I watch the climate scene as closely as anyone and she has only attracted my notice on a handful of occasions. I can think of at least a dozen people who have been more active in the area and who have done more to advance public understanding of climate science. Perhaps Emily's contribution has been more behind the scenes than front of stage, or perhaps it's just that her work has been done in Whitehall rather than out there in the wild west of England, like Richard or Tamsin.

Congratulations to both though.


DECC consistently misled public over electricity costs

An interesting tweet from former DECC chief scientist David Mackay yesterday:



As readers here know, I have been quite strongly against the use of levelised costs (LCOE), referring to it as "the great levelised costs lie". It's therefore gratifying to see Mackay publicly agreeing with me.

Click to read more ...


What DECC knew

Updated on Aug 6, 2015 by Registered CommenterBishop Hill

Greenpeace have been doing some rather odd FOI work in recent months. It seems they have decided to investigate the series of parliamentary questions that Lord Donoughue put to to DECC ministers about the Met Office's statistical reasoning. Readers will recall that these questions were formulated with Doug Keenan's advice, were aimed at determining how the Met Office justified its claim that recent temperature rises were statistically significant, and that the eventual result, after months of non-answers from the Met Office, was that they effectively withdrew the claim.

The documents Greenpeace have made public are very interesting but I'm not sure that our environmentalist friends have considered exactly what it is they have got.

It does rather come across as if the DECC team wanted to "move on". In Document 4, the briefing ahead of the meeting between Keenan, Donoughue and the DECC team of Baroness Verma, David Mackay and David Warrilow, officials list their objectives for the meeting as being:

  • to demonstrate a willingness to listen
  • to demonstrate to Lord Donoughue that DECC's scientists are reasonable and, erm, scientific
  • to steer Lord Donoughue away from Keenan.

Click to read more ...


Birthday honours?

The Queen's birthday honours list was out a couple of days ago and as I always I have scanned it looking for familiar names. There are no climatologists this year, but two names in particular stood out.

David Warrilow is the UK's long-term representative on the IPCC and has come to the attention of BH from time to time, although as I have noted in the past he is someone who operates very much in the shadows. BH readers did some research on him in the comments here, including Doug Keenan's recollection of a meeting between the two of them. Warrilow gets himself an OBE.

The other was Anne Glover, the former chief scientist at the EU, whose gradual descent into climate alarmism I have followed with interest. She becomes Dame Anne.

The only other one that struck me as being of interest was someone called David Surplus, the director of a renewable energy group in Northern Ireland, who is awarded an OBE. What a strange world, I thought, where it is considered honourable to achieve success through vigorous sucking at the taxpayer's teat.



The benefits of public spending

In a bid to show how careful it is with taxpayer's cash, DECC has decided to launch a climate change photography competition.

Run by the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC), the #BackClimateAction 2015 competition opens on Friday 20 February.

Entries must be entered on Instagram or via Twitter.

Organisers say they are seeking an image that ‘challenges us to re-imagine climate change in the most original and engaging way’, by addressing one or more of the following: What do you most want to protect? (this could be your own or your family’s health); What feeling does climate change provoke? (e.g. loss, challenge, change or action); and What can tackling climate change lead to? (this could include changing technology, new ways of living, or new energy sources).

Yes folks, you are working your fingers to the bone so that "civil" "servants" can spend their time looking at pretty snapshots.


Energy costs in the absence of policy

Since the government published its most recent estimates of the costs of renewable energy policy I have been trying to get to the bottom of the question of how they estimated what the costs would have been in the absence of policy.

After several months of effort I have managed to get the underlying spreadsheet and a bit of a steer (link).

In relation to your question on the price before policies, page 66-67 of the prices and bills report, sets out that the wholesale price in the baseline (no policies) is modelled using DECC’s Dynamic Dispatch Model, and requires making a number of assumptions, particularly about the no policy baseline.  To estimate the electricity wholesale cost in the baseline, we used historical trends in build rates and plant characteristics where possible to match capacity margins, and plant efficiencies as closely as possible to what is most likely to have happened in a world without policies. This is therefore a modelling output, and not a result of a simple calculation.

Click to read more ...


Department for Exaggeration, Crookery and Conmen

Here's an astonishing essay, looking at the shambles DECC has made of smart-meter rollout.

Last week the UK’s Department of Energy and Climate Change announced that the UK’s smart metering deployment was facing another 12 months delay.  That’s 18 months after they announced that the UK’s smart metering deployment was facing another 12 months’ delay.  This is not all bad news.  It means that the growing population of consultants within DECC can look forward to what is fast becoming a never-ending gravy train of consultancy work, public consultations and project reviews.

There are also some astonishing revelations about DECC's attempts to hide its incompetence and this rather juicy ending:

It’s all part of the Alice in Wonderland world that is our current energy policy, which is coming to resemble Swift’s satire of extracting sunbeams from cucumbers.  That’s probably the only renewable energy policy that DECC has not tried funding, but now I’ve brought it to their attention, they might.  From feed-in-tariffs to keep the voters happy to offshore windmills that are about as effective as treadmills for mermaids, we have a department that is out of control and prepared to squander taxpayers’ money on anything that can be claimed to save energy, ministerial face, the climate or the world.

And you can count the MPs who give a stuff on the fingers of one hand.

Read the whole thing.

(Coincidentally, the Commons Energy and Climate Change Committee are taking evidence on smart meters, right now).


The cost of public policy

Updated on Nov 7, 2014 by Registered CommenterBishop Hill

The government released a report yesterday explaining the impact of public policy on domestic energy bills. It's a bit of a mystery in places. Look at the alleged savings that energy policy is currently making for us:

Blue: wholesale, red, network; green, other supplier costsI'm struggling with the idea that wholesale prices (in dark blue) are lower than they would otherwise have been because energy companies are forced to buy renewable energy. Similarly, how can network costs (green) and other supplier costs (red) be lower than they would have been?

I smell a rat.

Click to read more ...


Nothing changes

DECC have just published their latest policy paper on emissions trading with their fingers in their ears. "The UK believes"...really? TM

The UK believes the EU ETS, the world’s largest cap and trade system, should remain the cornerstone of EU energy and climate change policy. The centrality of the EU ETS in delivering the objectives of the 2030 framework was highlighted by the European Council in March 2014.

The UK’s vision for the future of the EU ETS is for a System that:

  • delivers EU emissions reductions consistent with meeting the long-term EU objective of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 80%-95% by 2050 at least cost, including a 2030 emissions reduction target of 40% moving to 50% in the event of an ambitious global deal, including by driving investment in the low carbon economy
  • is designed in such a way that energy-intensive industries remain competitive during the transition to a global low-carbon economy, adequately protecting them from the risk of carbon leakage so that they can adjust over the longer term
  • demonstrates global leadership through delivery of an effective and economically efficient emissions trading scheme, ready to link with all suitable ETSs as the foundation of a global carbon market

Quote of the day, consumer care edition

The Department allowed inflation indexation [of contracts] because consumers are thought to be better placed to absorb the impact of high inflation than generators.

DECC explains its approach to looking after energy consumers



Close down DECC

The Commons Public Accounts Committee has issued a report about the award of renewables contracts. It is not a pretty sight.

By awarding early contracts worth up to £16.6 billion to eight renewable electricity generation projects without price competition, the Department of Energy and Climate Change (the Department) failed to adequately consider how to secure best value for consumers. In committing 58% of the total funds available for renewable contracts under these transitional arrangements, the Department has severely constrained the amount available to be awarded under new arrangements through price competition, reducing the opportunity to test the market and secure the best value for consumers. Under the terms of these contracts the Department failed to defend consumers’ interest. For example, the risks associated with inflation will be met by consumers with inflation measured on the Consumer Prices Index. At the same time any benefit from excess profits will be retained by the developers as there are no claw-back clauses.

Click to read more ...


Scientists decline the poison chalice

When it was announced that David Mackay would be stepping down from his role as chief scientific adviser at DECC, I speculated that it might be a tricky vacancy to fill, what with rumours of blackouts impending.

Here we are nearly six months later. Mackay has gone and no scientist seems to have stepped forward to take up the poison chalice.

I would say they chose...wisely.



Destroying DECC

Some wags in the Conservative party have presented a private members bill to abolish DECC.

Mr Peter Bone, supported by Mr Christopher Chope, Mr Philip Hollobone, David T. C. Davies, Mr Graham Brady, Mr Aidan Burley, Mr Stewart Jackson and Philip Davies, presented a Bill to make provision for the abolition of the Department of Energy and Climate Change and for its functions to be absorbed into the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills.

It's fun, but of course it's more a case of shuffling the deckchairs than anything else. Ed Davey would still be a madman if he worked out of BIS.


Wind and solar are worst

The venerable (and somewhat woolly liberal) Brookings Institution in Washington DC has published a working paper on the most cost-effective way to reduce carbon dioxide emissions. Commendably, the paper eschews the dishonest levelised-cost (LCOE) approach used by DECC and its colleagues in the green movement. 

The author, Charles Frank, concludes that solar and wind power are the worst possible approach to the problem:

...nuclear, hydro, and natural gas combined cycle have far more net benefits than either wind or solar. This is the case because solar and wind facilities suffer from a very high capacity cost per megawatt, very low capacity factors and low reliability, which result in low avoided emissions and low avoided energy cost per dollar invested.

Click to read more ...


Liberally Dim - Josh 278

We did of course already know that the UK was planning on using diesel to compensate for renewable energy fluctuations, cartoon here. But Ed Davey's latest bright idea is to use diesel for just about any kind of hiccup in energy. And, of course, to have us, the public, pay for the privilege. See here, here and here.

Proper mad.

Cartoons by Josh