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Discussion > Zed: ‘not often aired elsewhere, let alone discussed’

Zed says

You feel you have some minority views in common with them, which are not often aired elsewhere, let alone discussed, I do understand your motivations for frequenting this place.

Presumably including my rants about UK energy policy.

What do you think we should be doing?

Apr 3, 2011 at 12:38 AM | Unregistered CommenterBBD

Actually I've missed your rants, or if I did take them in, have forgotten them.

My take on UK energy policy, is that the balance of science, seems far more likely than not, that emissions are having a harmful effect upon our planet, with serious consequences.

Regardless of our relative size, we're one of the best placed countries to be greener. That whole 'why should we do anything when some places are worse' is just a morality-free child's argument.

As not changing policy at all, has great consequences, and the science strongly leads one to the conclusion, that it is the wrong decision, then something has to be done, and we need to be greener.

We'll never get all the way there on green energy production, not with current technology, so the balance should be largely nuclear, as the least worst option. As we've been seeing, there can be downsides.

Will it cost more, to take the route science leads us down? Yes. Nobody ever said that tackling climate change would be cheap or not include sacrifice.

There's also a huge amount that can be done at the consumption end of things, and that is both cheaper and involves less sacrifice - I'm surprised more isn't done with this.

The lack of action at both ends, can be seen as hypocrisy by both our government and most of the others. Showing that, yes, politicians want to do what's right, but are nervous about the political consequences of taking drastic steps.

Apr 5, 2011 at 9:12 PM | Unregistered CommenterZedsDeadBed


Thanks for responding.

We'll never get all the way there on green energy production, not with current technology, so the balance should be largely nuclear, as the least worst option. As we've been seeing, there can be downsides.

We agree, including the non-deniable risk.

My UK policy energy rants boil down to this:

1/. No one seriously doubts that the consequence of global industrialisation (China and other BRIC nations) will be a rise in global emissions.

2/. Against this backdrop, it is necessary to balance the speed of decarbonisation in the UK with its negative economic and social impacts.

3/. The actual UK contribution to global emission is so small it doesn’t matter. This means that prioritising the interests of the population here isn’t actually hurting people (or animals) elsewhere. It's not a morality-free child's argument to suggest that while we should decarbonise, we should not suffer from ineffectual haste.

4/. Current energy policy is distorted by fast-forward integration of wind generation at huge public expense. Wind generation is not a reliable or high-capacity energy source.

5/. Because renewables are now so closely coupled to the idea of decarbonisation it has become heresy to point out their shortcomings.

6/. This is why energy policy in the UK is failing.

I don’t dislike renewables because they are ‘green’; I dislike them because the numbers don’t work.

This is why we agree that nuclear is the likely future of baseload generation in the UK – and elsewhere. It is (as Hansen has said) the only actual alternative to coal for

I’m not at all convinced that renewables are going to displace fossil fuels on a global scale as far or as fast as their proponents insist.

Wind will do its bit, but it’s not going to deliver enough energy to make a significant difference. Offshore maybes and hand-waving about European interconnectors do not convince.

Solar installations with a combined area of Germany in North Africa sound wonderful. As does connecting them to a pan-NA, Middle East and European super super grid strung together with HVDC interconnectors.

But call me a sceptic…

Anyway, enough for now. Thanks again for replying. Your thoughts are very welcome.

Apr 5, 2011 at 11:06 PM | Unregistered CommenterBBD

"This is why we agree that nuclear is the likely future of baseload generation"
Apr 5, 2011 at 11:06 PM | BBD

We don't particularly agree on that one. I think with a willingness to pay for our power, and a serious rethink of how we consume it, we can get to over 50% baseload through green alone. Multiple input of course, wind, wave, geothermal, solar, tidal, stored from green surplus etc, with nuclear doing nothing more than taking up the slack. We could hit it within a decade with sufficient willingness to do so.

Won't happen of course, not least with people like you lot doing their best to misinform people, draw strange conclusions from science, entirely miss the wood for the trees, and generally behave in ways I find inexcusable.

Incidentally BBD - you're going down the 'they did it more so why should I stop' route.

Grow up a bit eh?

Any change will help. Trying to weasel out of it, or arbitrarily drawing a line in the sand and claiming that "anything below this, is insignificant", is not the action of a gentleman or a lady.

We can do our bit, we can set an example, and we can invest in it, any one of which investments, may just be turn out to be the magic bullet which solves both CO2 and peak oil issues.

Apr 6, 2011 at 8:50 PM | Unregistered CommenterZedsDeadBed


Thanks for your response.

What you say requires renewables to be capable of displacing fossil fuels rapidly enough to avert dangerous climate change. They must do this in a global context dominated for decades to come by the industrialisation of China and other BRIC nations.

Doesn’t this strike you as implausible?

I’m not interested in a scrap, but I’d like to hear more about a couple of things you said.

You argue that renewables can provide 50% of UK baseload within a decade. That needs backing up.

You seem to argue that energy prices should rise and that it is miserliness on the population’s part that prevents this:

I think with a willingness to pay for our power

Energy bills are rising and are projected to rise much faster because of the increasing public subsidy for renewables. This hurts. It’s a regressive tax that bites lower income households and pensioners.

But does it do anything at all about global CO2 emissions?

It’s not personal. I’m not having a pop at you. But I’m not convinced that the climate concerned have got a good grip on the key aim of energy policy, which is to keep the lights on at a price all can afford.

Apr 6, 2011 at 10:59 PM | Unregistered CommenterBBD

If I can chip in, BBD, I must say that if you wrestle with a pig you'll get very dirty and the pig will probably enjoy it.

I have yet to see any comment posted by ZedsDeadBed (either here or in other threads) that strikes me as worthy of serious consideration, so I'm not sure why you are being almost obsequious in your responses to him.

If you want to consider the reality of the claim that "renewables can provide 50% of UK baseload within a decade" just look at the Royal Academy of Engineering's report:-

Note that this report is produced by a bunch of 'true believers' (or at least, in most cases by engineers with a direct personal financial interest in keeping this scam going.) But they are experienced engineers who at least care to make their numbers add up.

Just check out their prescription for possible renewables generation (Tables 3 & 4), in the next FOUR decades. Even in their most extreme 'demand reduction' scenario, 'renewables' are not predicted to produce 50% by 2050, let alone by 2021. (Table 5). And the net effect on the Climate, even if all this was achievable (which it absolutly is not), would be the square root of nothing.

And there you have it. You may not want to 'have a scrap' or to 'take a pop' at ZDB. Indeed, it isn't worth doing so.

But you when discussing with him you might consider Proverbs 26:11

"As a dog returneth to his vomit, so a fool returneth to his folly"

Apr 8, 2011 at 10:34 AM | Unregistered CommenterMartin Brumby


I'm trying to engage with Zed, so I am ignoring her barbs in favour of constructive dialogue.

Thanks for the reference, which I am glad to say I have in fact read. Along with similar studies carried out by the Tyndall Centre, the Institute of Electrical Engineers, Parsons Brinckerhoff, the Performance and Innovation Unit, the Centre for Alternative Technologies and the Independent Analysis Group.

The findings show renewables are at best capable of a marginal contribution of between ~ 5 - 20% of the average daily per capita UK energy requirement. Say it's 15% (let's be generous). That's a very long way from a workable energy solution by 2030 or beyond, no matter how much rationing is enforced.

Proponents of renewables as planet-saving technologies we should welcome need to examine the evidence with a properly sceptical attitude. Instead, they tend to aggressively promote ill-considered nonsense which only encourages idiots like Huhne.

This is unwise.

Apr 8, 2011 at 11:05 AM | Unregistered CommenterBBD


Entirely agree. I guess you will also have seen the ZeroCarbonBritain 2030 report which is obviously closer to ZDB's bizarre assertions.

This (and the antics of BuffHuhne) would be hysterically funny if they wasn't so dangerous to our very creaky economy.

And it would be easier to forgive if the whole renewables scam wasn't destroying legitimate aspirations for a better life in Africa. What they need is cheap reliable electricity.

Apr 8, 2011 at 11:02 PM | Unregistered CommenterMartin Brumby


We can do our bit, we can set an example, and we can invest in it, any one of which investments, may just be turn out to be the magic bullet which solves both CO2 and peak oil issues.

Doing our bit and setting an example, while laudable, will not impact global CO2 emissions.

Surely this needs to be taken into account when we decide whether to increase or decrease energy security in the UK?

Apr 12, 2011 at 12:26 AM | Unregistered CommenterBBD

"What they need is cheap reliable electricity."

Don't we all!

Apr 12, 2011 at 12:24 PM | Unregistered CommenterJames P

Martin Brumby

You are of course correct to point to the 1.5 billion people without access to electricity.

One of the harder questions for our 'we're right; you're wrong' friends is the relation between energy access and population growth.

It is negative.

Apr 16, 2011 at 11:30 PM | Unregistered CommenterBBD


2010 UK renewables output falls far short of targets (REF).

An addition to the various reports I mentioned at 11:05pm April 8:

2010 Renewables Target Missed by Large Margin

The Renewable Energy Foundation (REF) today published an Information Note on the performance of the UK renewables sector in 2010 based on analysis of new DECC and Ofgem data (see The work shows that the 2010 target for renewable electricity has been missed by a large margin, and confirms longstanding doubts as to the feasibility of this target, and the still more ambitious target for 2020.

The key findings are:

• The UK failed to reach its 10% renewable electricity target for 2010, producing only 6.5% of electricity from renewable sources, in spite of a subsidy to renewable generators amounting to approximately £5 billion in the period 2002 to 2010, and £1.1 billion in 2010.

• Onshore wind Load Factor in 2010 fell to 21%, as opposed to 27% in 2009, while offshore fared better declining from 30% in 2009 to 29% in 2010.

• Although low wind in 2010 accounts for some part of the target shortfall, it is clear that the target would have been missed by a large margin even if wind speeds had exceeded the highest annual average in the last 10 years.

• The substantial variation in annual on-shore wind farm load factors is significant for project economics, particularly Internal Rate of Return (IRR), and future cost of capital.

• Planning delays do not appear to have been responsible for the missed target, with large capacities of wind farms, both on and offshore, consented but unbuilt.*

• The failure to meet the 2010 target confirms doubts as to the UK’s ability to reach the 2020 EU Renewable Energy Directive target for 15% of Final Energy Consumption, a level requiring at least 30% of UK electricity to be generated from renewable sources.

More evidence (not that it is needed) that renewables are both a technical and a policy failure.

The policy failure is two-fold, as it encompasses both the generational shortfall and the failure to reduce CO2 emissions by displacing significant amounts of fossil fuels from the UK energy mix.

Why are you defending the indefensible?

Apr 17, 2011 at 3:35 PM | Unregistered CommenterBBD

Although actually, I notice that you haven't been doing too much defending of late.

Cynics might conclude that you have walked away from this discussion without making your case.

Apr 17, 2011 at 3:37 PM | Unregistered CommenterBBD

Government targets for offshore wind have quietly been slashed from 33GW capacity by 2020 to 12GW capacity by 2020.

A 66% reduction in target suggests a 66% improvement in the understanding of the engineering, meteorological and economic constraints that will always confine wind to the margins of the energy mix.

May 2, 2011 at 6:34 PM | Unregistered CommenterBBD

Guardian, letters 13 May 2011

At first reading, the Committee on Climate Change's renewable energy review (Report, 9 May) appears remarkably complimentary to the engineering community. It identifies the key deployment barriers to rebuilding our energy supply infrastructure as finance and planning, not whether the technology will work or industry can deliver. Yet a more thorough reading suggests it has glossed over these vital questions. Experts at the Institution of Engineering and Technology find the report lacks rigorous analysis of many technical issues essential to meeting UK renewable energy targets.

What is missing is recognition of the scale of technical challenges involved in decarbonising Britain's energy supply infrastructure. The fourth carbon budget said that 60% of new cars should be electric by 2030, a figure far higher than industry's most optimistic projections. The document also planned for gas boilers to be replaced by heat pumps in 25% of houses in the same time. These represent huge engineering programmes where the solutions have to be tailored to households and geographical areas.

We also need to rebuild our electricity generation and transmission infrastructure, subject of the CCC's December 2010 report. In the next 20 years, the coal-fired power stations, which provided more than half our electricity last winter, will be closed. All but one of the existing nuclear stations will expire. The CCC's plans say that, by 2030, renewable energy should supply 45% of our needs, compared with 3% today. Given that energy infrastructure is designed for a life of 30 plus years, this is a massive engineering challenge. We have not run large fleets of offshore wind turbines long enough to understand maintenance needs; our experience of wave energy is restricted to a few prototypes; carbon capture has, so far, been limited to a few megawatt prototypes, not the tens of gigawatts that will be required. The CCC should be more upfront about the challenges it is creating.

Professor Roger Kemp

Institution of Engineering and Technology

May 13, 2011 at 7:45 PM | Unregistered CommenterBBD

It has been evident for many years that claims that grid interconnectors can smooth for intermittency and variability introduced by renewables are incorrect. More official recognition here:

Groundbreaking study into the impact of wind and solar generation on electricity markets in North-West Europe

The creation of an offshore 'super grid' and a major upgrade of energy interconnections are not the silver bullet solutions to Europe's energy needs, an independent study published by Pöyry has found. The report has found that the introduction of improved connectivity would only partially alleviate the volatility of increased renewable energy generation.

In the North European Wind and Solar Intermittency Study (NEWSIS) Pöyry conducted detailed market analysis of the future impact wind and solar energy on the electricity markets across Northern Europe as it heads towards the 2020 decarbonisation targets and beyond.

The study also concluded that weather is going to play a major role in determining how much electricity is generated and supplied to home and businesses throughout Europe, with electricity prices much lower when it is very windy, but unfortunately higher when it is still.

A public extract from the main study is available to download below.

Proponents of renewables (especially wind) need to take note. All that rubbish about the 'wind always blowing somewhere' ignores several things.

First - it isn't. Wide-scale winter anticyclones can bring calm to much of northern Europe for days at a time. Then there's the logical fallacy. When there isn't enough energy at the best of times in a brave, renewable world, what happens when whole geographical areas suffer shortfalls?

There is no surplus from elsewhere. Everything's rationed, on smart meters etc. Interconnectors make no difference if there isn't any spare capacity to share with them.

Obvious, really.

May 13, 2011 at 8:02 PM | Unregistered CommenterBBD

ZED said - "Regardless of our relative size, we're one of the best placed countries to be greener"
good comment - O/T slightly

i agree, the amount we in the UK throw away (scrap & buy the new model) is staggering (electronics... etc)
there has to be a better way for consumers to consume & negate the waste.

yea, i know "recycling in the UK" works?

When i was a kid your mum darned socks/jumpers & patched jeans/jacket elbows, but it was good quality in the first place so could be reworked.

May 13, 2011 at 10:33 PM | Unregistered Commenterdougieh

After the recent silliness on the 'Repeal the Climate Change Act' thread, it's time to add more information for Zed about why renewables are a problem for energy and climate policy going forward.

After some careful thought, I picked this two-part review of the potential of renewables both as generation technologies and as tools for emissions reduction by Prof. Barry Brook of the University of Adelaide.

While this may not endear Prof. Brook to everyone here, Zed at least should be reassured to know that he took James Hansen out for dinner when he last visited Australia. So not exactly a denier...

Anyway, have a read.

Renewables and efficiency cannot fix the energy and climate crises (part 1)

Renewables and efficiency cannot fix the energy and climate crises (part 2)

May 22, 2011 at 7:47 PM | Unregistered CommenterBBD

After the recent silliness on the 'Repeal the Climate Change Act' thread, it's time to add more information for Zed about why renewables are a problem for energy and climate policy going forward.

BBD, why are you bothering, Zed has a predictable routine which does not include reading or replying to posts which give information counter to her argument.

May 24, 2011 at 5:07 PM | Unregistered CommenterBreath of Fresh Air

Agreed, BoFA.
She drifts in, lays her totally meaningless egg, and drifts out again. In fact the more I think about it the more she gives the impression of being half-cut most of the time. The only point of divergence between you and me is that I haven't yet seen anything that could be called an "argument". I keep rising to the bait and then going into a corner and hitting myself over the head -- like a house-elf!
Hengist produces much the same reaction.
I understand what BBD is trying to do (I think) but there has to come a time ...

May 24, 2011 at 5:29 PM | Unregistered CommenterMike Jackson


Mike Jackson

Re Zed and Hengist 'The Brain' McStone.

It's a game. I enjoy it. Hengist is just thick, but there's more to Zed. And she looks in here once in a while. I know that, and she knows that I know, which adds an extra layer of fun to the comments in the main thread.

It's ironic, isn't it, that the pseudo-environmentalists are achieving exactly what they accuse the 'deniers' of: they are distorting energy policy in the most dangerous manner imaginable.

I often think about this. I hope she does too, at least from now on.

May 24, 2011 at 6:16 PM | Unregistered CommenterBBD

I like the off repeated 'off for a glass of wine' comment after she has been beat 10 nil, followed by a weeks absense, must be some hangover ;)

May 24, 2011 at 6:53 PM | Unregistered CommenterBreath of Fresh Air

Yes, I really must lighten up!
I think I've spent too much time in the company of Booker's trolls who really are blinkered idiots.

May 25, 2011 at 8:03 AM | Unregistered CommenterMike Jackson

Mike Jackson

Don't lighten up. It keeps our energy fantasist friends on their toes ;-)

You're right though; the endless confrontation does induce trench psychosis. On both sides.

May 25, 2011 at 10:55 PM | Unregistered CommenterBBD

"You're right though; the endless confrontation does induce trench psychosis. On both sides."

Amen to that. And did I even spot you kicking back and embracing your inner Hilly Billie enough to use the 'D' word a few posts up?

Seriously though. On the whole 'we're to small so don't need to bother' argument.
- what right do you have to draw a line in the sand on where the cut off is that it makes no difference?
- why do you say that something that is easily quantifiable in whole percent, will make no difference? Less than one hundred times that, and it's the whole lot.
- how can we possibly expect other countries to do what we're not prepared to do? Especially in light of the amount we were kicking out when these countries were producing tiny amounts of CO2?
- are you seriously suggesting that we should wait until they've fully tackled their own CO2 emissions before even starting on our own? If you concede that that would be silly, then it's logical extension is that each country should take responsiblity for its own emissions.
- is all you are worried about money in this debate? If so, the Stern report should answer that question for you. But even if it doesn't, our climate is more imortant than the contents of our wallets. And f thee and I end up considerably poorer as a result of doing the right thing, then tough on us, but we'll get by, and should just reflect upon how easy we've had it for most of our lives.

May 26, 2011 at 2:09 PM | Unregistered CommenterZedsDeadBed