REVOLT News 

30/09/2004

Text Version 

Revolt news171 

1. The 2004 Revolt AGM will be at Sowerby Methodist Hall, Thirsk, at
7.30 p.m. on Thu 28 Oct. A chairman's annual report and agenda will be
circulated by email nearer the time.
2.  The unashamed DTI-funded PR campaign for wind farms is hitting the
press with the label "Embrace the revolution", with its "surveys"
designed to support the PR. Defra mentioned a cost of 200,000 pounds
(news161.2e), Country Guardian reported 2 million pounds to Peter
Novelli (news167.7), and a BBC reporter is said to have said 20 million.
Whichever, it's a big deal fronted by Chris Tarrant and other
celebrities. Capturing public support for renewable energy is great.
Government funded partisan campaigning for ill-planned wind farms is
not. A campaign for open-mindedness and appraisal of nuclear options and
for better energy saving would be welcome. Sadly, the otherwise good
service news@all-energy is overtly campaigning rather than issuing
impartial information.
3. Tony Blair now describes global warming as the world's "greatest
environmental challenge". That's better spin than some earlier versions.
We have remarked before about hyperbole (news 161.2c, 162.8a, 166.6a).
To recap: The 2003 annual report of the Environmental Audit Committee
(of MPs) claims "combating climate change remains the single most urgent
priority facing mankind"? That seemed a bit rash. Now here's a different
spin: There is "no bigger long-term question facing the global
community" than the threat of climate change, Tony Blair said at the
launch of the Climate Group in May.  See also APPENDIX 1 (snips from
news@all-energy, including a range of views on nuclear power).
4.  My very short response to Ofgem's current report on security of
supply (electricity and gas) is at APPENDIX 2. Thankfully we can take
some assurance for the coming winter, but the longer term security
remains uncertain and risky.
5.  Interesting letter to the Times (APPENDIX 3) from Lord Lawson et al
questions the economics, rather than the science, of climate change
measures, particularly for failing to recognise uncertainty. Scientific
uncertainty, and precautionary policy, figure largely in public health
considerations of interest to Revolt, and the latest IPCC report (Third
Assessment Report 2001) is thorough in consideration of scientific
uncertainty. Economic uncertainty is another thing, but crucial to the
measures and policies adopted, not least in responses to the Kyoto
protocols. Windfarms are a case in point - we have argued their
technical limitations. It is widely thought now that the government's
reliance on wind power is misplaced in that it will not deliver the
targets, perhaps for a combination of technical and economic reasons.
6.  Another moderate report from a delegate (additional to that at
news167.12) at that Moscow conference on global warming appears in
Telegraph letters (APPENDIX 4). 
7. Do windfarms reduce CO2 emissions? No, according to Dr John
Etherington, former Reader in Ecology, University of Wales, who passes
on a statement from a powerpoint presentation from Flemming Nissen, Head
of Development at West Danish generating company, ELSAM, saying
(translated) "Increased development of wind turbines does not reduce
Danish CO2 emissions". 
Here is my personal view (Mike O'Carroll). There are CO2 costs to
windfarms, from the infrastructure and the back-up generation. I have
been in touch with DTI and Ofgem about the CO2 cost of back-up
generation and have some helpful technical responses, although they are
principally about financial costs. Surprisingly the unit price of
reserve is considerably higher than actual generation. Reserve takes
many forms, typically by a conventional power station operating at, say,
80% of capacity to provide a reserve of its remaining 20%. This unused
reserve is not then using fuel in itself, although efficiency rates do
depend on operating levels. The energy cost (and CO2 cost) of
maintaining unused reserve is not transparent, but I would expect that
it would be very small compared with the wind energy it "covers". In my
view therefore, while a wind farm is producing power at or near its
design level, the energy consumption and CO2 cost of back-up would be
very small, and there would be a net gain of energy and a net saving of
CO2, and a net loss of money because of the high cost of reserve. That
is while the wind farm is working properly. While the wind farm is out
of action, the back up must be used and it is pollution as usual. The
saving of CO2 which is achieved during wind farm operation will however
be offset by the carbon cost of manufacture (concrete) and
infrastructure (roads, pylons and tree-felling) and increased
transmission losses of electricity (which can be considerable). It is by
no means clear that all this adds up to a net CO2 emissions saving. The
answer is likely to depend on the market penetration of intermittent
wind power, and that may be the problem in Denmark.
*****************************************************************
APPENDIX 1  Snips from news@all-energy issue 42 (Sep 04)
1.1.PM gives warning on climate
Urgent action is needed now to combat the world's "greatest
environmental challenge" - global warming, said Prime Minister Tony
Blair http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/3656812.stm  "Our
renewables obligation has provided a major stimulus for the development
of renewable energy in the UK.   It has been extended to achieve a 15.4%
contribution from renewables to the UK's electricity needs by 2015, on a
path to our aspiration of a 20% contribution by 2020. In the short term,
wind energy - in future increasingly offshore - is expected to be the
primary source of smart, renewable power. Our position on nuclear energy
has not changed."  Speech in full - www.number-
10.gov.uk/output/Page6333.asp 
1.3.Reshuffle brings new energy minister
In the government reshuffle Mike O'Brien MP has been appointed Minister
of State for e-Commerce, Energy & Competitiveness on Stephen Timms' move
to The Treasury as Financial Secretary http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_pol
itics/3642038.stm 
1.9.UK homes could feature rooftop mini-power stations
A mini-power station on the roof of many UK homes will soon be possible
and affordable. The Green Alliance says micropower schemes have come of
age. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/3650208.stm 
3.1.Prime Minister looking into grid issue
PM Tony Blair stepped into the row over plans to impose a huge surcharge
on windfarms in the north and north-east of Scotland, agreeing to
examine the issue after SNP leader Alex Salmond said Talisman believe
the proposal to charge 20 per kW of generating capacity to connect to
the grid is "the greatest single threat" to its Beatrice windfarm
project www.pressandjournal.co.uk/displayNode.jsp?nodeId=149235&command=
displayContent&sourceNode=149218&contentPK=10961428  See also
www.sundayherald.com/44796 with more views on the subject at www.timeson
line.co.uk/newspaper/0,,176-1247631,00.html
12.NUCLEAR
12.1.No need for more nuclear yet says Beckett
Building nuclear power stations would risk landing future generations
with 'difficult' legacies, the Environment Secretary, Margaret Beckett,
warns, in a clear rebuff to the nuclear industry http://politics.guardia
n.co.uk/green/story/0,9061,1308066,00.html
12.2.A range of views
>Climate change demands Britain consider building new nuclear power
plants, says Lord May, the Royal Society president. The government's
former chief scientist told the Daily Telegraph that the UK would
struggle to reduce its emissions of carbon dioxide without nuclear
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/3658802.stm 
>Nuclear power will have to provide half of Britain's electricity needs
if the Government is to have any hope of meeting its Kyoto targets for
reducing greenhouse gases, a top DTI official told ministers www.timeson
line.co.uk/article/0,,2-1261215,00.html 
>"To present nuclear power as one of the main ways of combating climate
change is short-sighted. While it is absolutely necessary that
scientists, government departments and experts continue to look for ways
to slow global warming, nuclear power simply does not represent a viable
option at present" Philip Sellwood, Chief Executive, Energy Saving
Trust.
 www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,59-1264441,00.html 
>Professor Ian Fells, chairman of NaREC, which is developing renewable
energy technology that can be used commercially, made the call for
"realism" towards nuclear power in a European Union journal www.timesonl
ine.co.uk/article/0,,2-1261215,00.html 
******************************************************************
APPENDIX 2  Response to Ofgem
In response to the 6-month retrospective report and considering
electricity in particular, I feel consumers can take reasonable
assurance for short term security and particularly for winter 2004-5,
noting improved advance information and increased capacity and plant
margin largely arising from price increase and de-mothballing.
The longer term position is less reassuring, noting international market
uncertainties for gas and increased remote wind generation and its
impact on grid stability and security. Accepting that longer term energy
policy is a matter for government, and noting the energy white paper and
Ofgem's advice on the likely cost of grid reinforcement to accommodate
wind power, and noting the investment incentives in the current DPCR, I
would be pleased to hear more of how Ofgem considers and advises on
longer term security for electricity supply.
*********************************************************************
APPENDIX 3  Letters to the Editor  Times online. Lord Lawson et al.
(http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,59-1276688,00.html)
September 24, 2004 
Political action on climate change
>From Lord Lawson of Blaby abd others (sic)
Sir, Both the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition made major
speeches
last week on climate change and the policies that are supposedly
required to deal
with it (reports, September 14 and 15). It appears that, in this area,
Tony Blair and
Michael Howard are of one mind. They hold the same alarmist view of the
world, and
call for much the same radical - and costly - programme of action. 
Both leaders assert that prospective climate change, arising from human
activity,
clearly poses a grave and imminent threat to the world. Such statements
give too
much credence to some current sombre assessments and dark scenarios, and
pay
no heed to the great uncertainties which still prevail in relation to
the causes and
consequences of climate change. There are no solid grounds for assuming,
as
Messrs Blair and Howard do, that global warming demands immediate and
far-reach
ing action. 
The actions that they call for chiefly comprise a range of higher
targeted subsidies,
and of stricter controls and regulations, to limit CO2 emissions. These
measures
would raise costs for enterprises and households, both directly as
consumers and
as taxpayers. They would make all of us significantly and increasingly
worse off.
There are no worthwhile gains to set against these costs. It is absurd
to argue, as
the Prime Minister did in his speech (and Howard took a similar line),
that such
policies can "unleash a new and benign commercial force". The new
opportunities
created for high-cost ventures come as the direct result of suppressing
opportunities
for their lower-cost rivals: this is already happening in power
generation. 
It is not only the Prime Minister and Mr Howard who are advancing
questionable
economic arguments. We consider that the treatment of economic issues by
the
Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is not up to the mark. It is
time for
finance and economics ministries everywhere, including HM Treasury, to
wake up to
this situation and take action. 
Yours faithfully,
LAWSON of BLABY,
WILFRED BECKERMAN
(Emeritus Fellow, Balliol College, Oxford),
IAN BYATT
(Director-General of Water Services, 1989-2000),
DAVID HENDERSON
(Visiting Professor, Westminster Business School),
JULIAN MORRIS
(Executive Director, International PolicyNetwork),
ALAN PEACOCK
(David Hume Institute, Edinburgh), 
COLIN ROBINSON
(Emeritus Professor of Economics, University of Surrey),
c/o Westminster Business School,
35 Marylebone Road, NW1 5LS.
September 22.
  
********************************************************************
APPENDIX 4   Letter to the Daily Telegraph 25.9.04  re. Moscow
conference.
Re: Alternative views need to be recognised
Date: 25 September 2004
Sir - I was invited by the Russian Academy of Sciences to take part in
the Moscow
climate change and Kyoto Protocol seminar held in July and to present my
work on
global warming and extreme weather (Letter, Sept 23, Opinion, Sept 20).
I am a
retired research scientist from Environment Canada and am on the
editorial board of
two international journals.
The British delegation, led by Sir David King, behaved in a most
peculiar fashion
throughout the event. On the day of the symposium, Sir David objected to
the
presence of several dissenting scientists (myself included), submitting
a hand-writte
n revision of the academy's programme that would have reduced it from
two days to
one, omitting all but one of the "undesirable" scientists. The academy
did not accept
it. My own presentation was repeatedly interrupted.
During it, I demonstrated that a careful analysis shows no increase in
worldwide
extreme weather events at present and the likelihood of escalation of
such events in
the next 10 to 25 years remains very small at this time. Professor Nils-
Axel Morner
from Stockholm University, an internationally renowned sea-level expert,
demolished
the myth that islands in the Maldives will be under water if greenhouse
gases are not
curbed. Despite his previous leading role in the Inter Governmental
Panel on Climate
Change and his status as past-president of the International Union for
Quaternary
Research (Inqua) commission on sea-level rise, his work has been
routinely
discarded by the IPCC. Many other scientists, including those present at
the
symposium, have experienced similar treatment from the international
scientific
community.
With the exception of the behaviour of some of the British delegation,
the Moscow
seminar was the kind of open debate and public reassessment of climate
science
that is long overdue.
Sir David and his compatriots ought to recognise the importance of
alternative views
of the rapidly evolving, yet still immature, field of global warming and
climate change.
Only then can we hope to understand this complex scientific issue,
possibly the
most important of our time.
From: 
Dr Madhav Khandekar, Ontario, Canada
***********************************************************


--
Mike O'Carroll

 

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