How Many Is Enough?

This article appeared in the Daily Telegraph –

And here is a response:

Where do you start? It is total nonsense!

What is worse is some of the total C**P in the comments after the article.

The first point is that, on current planning application process times, all they are saying is that wind power might reach its share of the 2020 target in time although this actually seems unlikely as some applications take as much as 10 years to reach fruition. I suspect that other forms of renewables will be way behind target given the slower than expected technological development in things like wave power and the persistently high LCOE figures for offshore renewables and nuclear (far higher than the relatively low cost of onshore wind) which are likely to make it difficult to have such technologies take up their projected share of the burden without causing unsustainable price rises for the consumer.

Secondly, and I keep stressing this and suggest that everyone else does so too, 2020 is not the end of the process! David Cameron himself recently stressed the importance of the 2050 target for 80% decarbonisation which is the only one that actually makes a difference when we consider the risks of run away climate change because the 2020 target of 15%, if it is achieved and then no more progress is made, will merely mildly delay the point at which we reach a significant tipping point and the driving force of climate change stops being human activity directly and starts being more related to factors such as the lack of albedo effect once the ice caps have gone or the mass evolution of methane from the oceans and melting tundra.

If, and it is still a big if, we can build a bit more onshore wind than the 2020 targets suggest now it is a good thing in that it helps us have a better chance of making the 2050 target. In the comments following the article we get the same old rubbish about wind farms being too intermittent, they don’t save any carbon emissions because fossil fuel capacity is on spinning reserve, its all about subsidies for greedy land owners and developers. All of these are just lies. The variation in demand is far greater than the variation in wind power so the need for spinning reserves is going to be there regardless of whether we have wind power or not. Much of the reason why peaking and balancing generation (the spinning reserves) is so less efficient than baseload generation is because much of our peaking and balancing currently comes from low efficiency open cycle gas turbines (OCGT`s). This need not be the case in the future. Pumped hydro and electrochemical storage technologies both have the response characteristics to perform peaking and balancing. Efficient new generation combined cycle gas turbine (CCGT) plant is also much quicker to react than the older CCGT and they could be run more and more on Anaerobic Digester gas and hydrogen derived from surplus wind or other renewables.

We need to get rid of the out of date OCGT technology not the wind turbines! Even with the old OCGTs causing minor issues the effect of renewables in general and wind in particular is now proven in the National Grid and DECC figures that show reductions in coal consumption and consequent CO2 reductions clearly linked to renewable generation so the positive effect of renewables isn’t even a theoretical effect in the future, it is already making a significant contribution despite the relatively low share of overall capacity – lesson learned build more of what is working not less!

I heard an article on the radio recently that was very interesting. I have thought for some time that we are in the same position regarding climate change and renewable energy that we were in regarding lung cancer and smoking in the 1970s and 80s in that people with scientific knowledge (I won’t call them scientists because their lack of respect for scientific truth debars them from that title in my opinion) are being employed by those with huge financial interests in stopping the development of renewables to generate spurious but believable “evidence” against renewables. The radio piece I heard actually suggested that not only were the big fossil fuel firms using the same tactics as the tobacco firms they were actually employing the same people!