What happens when there is no wind ?

This is an article the Telegraph asked me to write for their publication:

 

For more than a decade I have been asking Energy Ministers how do we keep the lights on  when the wind does not blow? There has been an  almost universal enthusiasm to finance  more windfarms. We were told we would get more than half our power from renewables. The stated capacity of UK wind turbines  is over 25  GW , which compares to demand on a cold day of a little over 45 GW.
This autumn and winter we have lived through periods of little wind, when the wind electricity output can be as low as 1% of our total needs despite having theoretical capacity for many times that. I have been repeating my question. If low wind  coincides with dark evenings and mornings when there is no solar power the grid has  turned to maximising output from gas generators . It has had to  call up the few older coal stations that managed to avoid the passion to demolish them.
I have usually been told that the UK will import any extra energy it needs if there is a cold snap with little wind. The Regulators and the industry rushed to put in more interconnectors to the continent so we have that flexibility they promised. I  remonstrated that we cannot rely on an energy short Europe if we run out of power. Most of the continent has no domestically available gas or oil, and was dependent on Russian imports which always contained a political risk. Unfortunately the violent conduct of Russia this year has led to an early ban on the imports that sustained Germany and Italy, leaving the EU trying to cut energy use to match the shortfall in supply. Relying on imports means paying very high prices.
There have always been problems with adding too much wind power to our system. Much of the wind power is best generated offshore in Scotland where there is availability  and on good days  more wind. This needs an enlarged high voltage network to  bring it south to where it can be consumed, with losses along the way. Too much interruptible renewable power on the system makes balancing the grid more difficult, with more need for back up generation that can be available almost instantly if the wind drops .  Relying on European imports does not work when the EU is also experiencing a cold period with little wind, especially if enough of the ageing French fleet of nuclear power stations continue to struggle to stay open.
Import dependence is also bad in other ways. It means exporting well paid jobs. It means paying large taxes on energy away to  a foreign Treasury instead of keeping them at home to pay some of the NHS bills. It gives the UK less control over energy when there are supply constraints that need managing. When electricity was first privatised there were three aims of policy. The first was to ensure security of supply, with the industry and regulators ensuring  a useful surplus over normal maximum demand from domestic stations. This was seen to be an important part of our national security. The second was affordable power, by developing a system which always used the cheapest power available. The third was environmental. In the first decade after privatisation the industry made huge advances, replacing coal stations where only around a third of the underlying energy emerged as electrical current  with gas fuelled combined cycle stations that improved energy efficiency by more than half, allowing cheaper prices and a much cleaner output. There was plenty of margin for cold days when something went wrong with a power station or two.
 
The government has wisely said it is going to make national security of supply a main aim again. To do so it needs to recognise that will require plenty of stand by power for when the wind does not blow. In due course we may find that investment in battery storage on a huge scale allows us to keep electricity from windy days to manage windless ones. We may find there is a commercial roll out for the widespread use of green hydrogen , generating more lasting power from wind electricity. Until that happens we need to rely on power stations that do work when the wind does not blow and the sun does not shine. 

146 Comments

  1. Mark B
    December 15, 2022

    Good morning.

    I have usually been told that the UK will import any extra energy it needs if there is a cold snap with little wind.

    Yes ! And it will cost between 50 and 100 times that which we can produce ourselves.

    Clearly someone never read the small print when signing that deal.

    1. Nottingham Lad Himself
      December 15, 2022

      The answer is clearly “use energy sources other than our own wind capacity” self-evidently.

      However, if we make best use of the wind, sun, hydro etc. when they are available, then we need burn less fossil fuel absolutely, and that is win-win.

      No one ever claimed that they would offer 24/365 cover, so Sir John posits yet another prize Straw Man.

      1. Mickey Taking
        December 15, 2022

        and no one ever officially stated that the people would have to accept no power in certain windless conditions and dark days, and nobody foresaw a big percentage not being able to afford food.

      2. a-tracy
        December 15, 2022

        NLH his main point was about our peak need: “This autumn and winter we have lived through periods of little wind” not your “24/365 cover”.

      3. Cuibono
        December 15, 2022

        Sounds like you can afford plenty of fossil fuel!

      4. IanT
        December 15, 2022

        There is a clear logic in your statement NLH.
        Extending it slightly, we could have cars that only run on Solar ( none of those awful carbon intensive batteries). They would be highly efficient when the sun shone and would not generate any of that dreadful CO2 we keep hearing about. They would free up our roads at night (and much of the Winter) for cyclists, so clearly a win-win. They would also be ideal for anyone wanting an inexpensive way to get to the seaside in the summer. Of course it might be bit stop and go on the M25 on cloudy days but I’m sure people will be patient and get used to sitting there waiting for the clouds to part…

      5. Original Richard
        December 15, 2022

        NLH : “However, if we make best use of the wind, sun, hydro etc. when they are available, then we need burn less fossil fuel absolutely, and that is win-win.”

        Er no…

        Because wind and sun (we don’t have the necessary precipitation and geography for hydro) are so intermittent (27 GW of wind failing to provide even 1 GW of power on some days and the sun going down every night) it is necessary to have 100% back-up.

        Non-fossil fuel back-up simply does not exist because it is totally uneconomic and hence we need to use fossil fuels.

        So, firstly we have the capital and maintenance expense of the fossil fuel back-up plus the CO2 costs to build and maintain this backup.

        Secondly, because these fossil fuel sources are not able to run constantly, and hence efficiently, they consume far more fuel as they are constantly adjusting their power output to cope with the variability of the renewables. Some even have to run “hot”, wasting their power, just to be available when the wind suddenly drops.

        It is difficult to calculate but some electrical engineers believe the more renewables that are on the grid, the more fossil fuel is consumed.

        Hence the Government’s plan is to force us to live with intermittent power by 2035 the decarbonisation date for electrical power.

      6. Mark
        December 15, 2022

        Wind and solar need 100% backup. If you run nuclear power, which saves fossil fuels, you must curtail wind and solar when they are running at high output. The reality is that wind plus gas -backup has been displacing baseload generation, including nuclear. That has increased the fossil fuel dependency and the dependency on gas. The claims made by Octopus and other renewables supporters that wind is displacing gas are not true. It has been displacing coal and nuclear.

        If you really want to cut fossil fuel use then you should run nuclear for baseload, and handle power flex through available hydro (much less available in the UK than in France) and gas. That is what the French did successfully for decades.

      7. acorn
        December 15, 2022

        There are currently about 72 GW of Energy Storage projects looking for a grid connection, probably with 2 to 4 hours capacity. There appears to be generation projects enough to triple current capacity to 200+ GWs

        There are about 33 GW of Interconnector projects looking for a grid connection. It looks like Southern England, south of the M4, could import more GWs from the continent, than it could from NETS circuits North of the M4!

        So what happens if prices are higher on the continent and those interconnectors switch to exporting, with little generating capacity left south of the M4?

        National Grid is now required to cater to anyone who wants to plug a battery or a windmill Into the Grid; and, make sure all those new GWs can be accommodated. Which is backwards to how the CEGB built the generation and transmission framework originally.

        1. Mark
          December 16, 2022

          What you mean is that consumers will be landed with all the massive costs of the crazy schemes devised to try to make net zero work, including massive overcapacity of generation and transmission assets to try to cover for when the wind doesn’t blow. The unfortunate part is that despite this massive waste it still won’t work.

      8. Peter2
        December 15, 2022

        Yes they did NHL
        There is a clear policy of replacing fossil fuels with renewables.

    2. Ian Wragg
      December 15, 2022

      £6000 per megawatt hour is what we ate paying daring peak load and selling it at £200 in off peak hours.
      Only the UK government could think this is a sustainable business model.

      1. Ian Wragg
        December 15, 2022

        Bearing in mind when we were self sufficient it cost £45 ]pet mwh so let’s blow up all the reliable coal stations and wait for the wind.

      2. a-tracy
        December 15, 2022

        Why do we only sell it for £200 when we are at peak if the market rate is £6000?

        1. Mark B
          December 15, 2022

          For the same reasons the Governor of the BoE thinks it OK to sell Bonds at a loss.

          ie It’s not their money 😉

  2. Peter Wood
    December 15, 2022

    Good Morning,

    Let’s be positive, this year we have a real-world wake-up, to GET 100% ENERGY INDEPENDENCE. Between now and next October, this objective needs to be achieved. What is the government’s plan to do this?

    1. PeteB
      December 15, 2022

      Indeed Peter, it would be a fine aim. Timeframes will be a challenge for Government. Perhaps Sunak will preface you target statement with “Government to spend the time debating whether to…”

      Sir J’s article is sound until teh final paragrapgh. As many have said battery storage capacity is miniscule against requirements and it is not feasible to store 5-10 day’s electricity demand in this form. Hydrogen storage is also not viable and highly inefficient.
      If we can’t store electricity we need more generation capacity, which means more gas statuions on standby – very cost effective!

      1. Sharon
        December 15, 2022

        A perfect example of batteries not storing enough power. My son has an expensive solar battery in his house, which served nearly all the household electrical needs in the summer. … Last Saturday, fault in the local power supply, caused a power cut! No power in the battery at all! Not enough sun to power it!

        1. Lifelogic
          December 15, 2022

          Solar power in the UK gives you most of the power around lunch time in summer when you least need it.

          In Aircon countries it is more useful for cooling in summer.

      2. Original Richard
        December 15, 2022

        PeteB :

        You are correct.

        Based upon the 2017 price for a Tesla Li-ion battery built in Australia the cost of battery storage is £250bn for each day the wind doesn’t blow. Since 2017 the battery minerals have trebled in price, and it is even uncertain there is sufficient mining capacity to provide the minerals required.

        To use hydrogen as storage (electrolysis -> hydrogen -> electricity) would require 360GW of installed wind capacity to achieve the 45GW demand quoted in Sir John’s article.

        Both are totally uneconomic which is why the Government is planning for us to accept intermittency by 2035, the decarbonisation date for electrical power.

        1. Lifelogic
          December 15, 2022

          Then you have the finance costs & depreciation of these short lived batteries and the losses in charging and discharging them. This often cost more that the value of the electricity you ever store in the battery.

      3. Dave Andrews
        December 15, 2022

        I made an estimate recently that showed the UK needing a cubic kilometre of battery to sustain its energy needs for a reasonable period of no wind and no fossil fuel backup.

    2. R.Grange
      December 15, 2022

      Government? Plan? Not in the same sentence, please.

      The plans are made elsewhere, often at Davos, in January.

      1. Ian B
        December 15, 2022

        @R.Grange +1 There is no UK Government

    3. Mark B
      December 15, 2022

      More windmills.

      And I wish I was joking.

      If our kind host allows:

      https://www.cityam.com/uk-build-thousands-more-wind-turbines-under-government-energy-strategy/

      1. Ian B
        December 15, 2022

        @Mark B +1

        Even more disturbing is when you fathom the ownership of what does exist, then digest how the UK Government is then controlled by the Political Whims in other domains.

      2. Cuibono
        December 15, 2022

        +many
        They don’t seem to understand that however many they build…
        They can’t make the wind blow!
        It isn’t like opening up another coal mine.
        Perhaps someone should break it to them?

        1. Lifelogic
          December 15, 2022

          +1 some people and MPs are so daft that even the blindingly obvious is beyond them. Perhaps they thing some could become electric fans to blow at the others! Or the solar cells could be illuminated by lighting units!

      3. Original Richard
        December 15, 2022

        Mark B :

        If wind can sometimes only produce 1GW from 27GW installed capacity, you would think that even the arts, classics and history graduates who decide upon our energy policies can realise that quadrupling these renewables will only bring us to 4GW and 10% of demand.

        So, with no intention to store any energy they are leading us to a very miserable existence and indeed the collapse of our economy.

    4. Ian Wragg
      December 15, 2022

      There is no an, the government is bereft of ideas and can’t wait to pass the baton.

      1. Ian B
        December 15, 2022

        @Ian Wragg – It already has

    5. Nigl
      December 15, 2022

      Well said. The anti renewable brigade need to understand they had lost the politics and had Putin not gone crazy, I suspect that would still be case.

      However he has and that has changed and forced politicians to take a more pragmatic view. However it will still only be transition maybe just a bit longer.

      Refuseniks forget the vast investment, on the positive side of the balance sheet to the economy, through R and D and renewables manufacturing, that the political push has created.

      1. Ian B
        December 15, 2022

        @Nigl – renewables manufacturing? the UK only assembles foreign manufacture which is then in the main put into use and control by those from other nations and their political whims. it doesn’t help the UK balance sheet one iota foreign controlled enterprises pass the money back to their home domain to register profit and taxes.

        Putin has nothing to do with the UK energy crisis, that was there before and has been building for years, remember Boris Johnson is the architect that destroyed any hope of UK energy resiliance

      2. Clough
        December 15, 2022

        Back in the 1970s, European countries went into recession because oil-producing Arab states put up energy prices enormously. OPEC caused serious damage to Western economies, and blackouts loomed.

        This year European countries’ economies are suffering because Brussels and London stopped buying cheap energy. Now it’s these European countries that have caused serious damage to their own economies, and blackouts are in prospect.

        Meanwhile OPEC and Russia are getting on rather well. India and Russia too.

        I wouldn’t say the crazy leaders are in Moscow, Nigl.

      3. Lifelogic
        December 15, 2022

        An energy policy designed by politics and mad virtue-signalling simply does not work. So in the end you need one designed by engineers that respects, understands and works with the laws of physics, this rather than this mad net zero climate alarmist religion. Otherwise you freeze pensioners to death, destroy the economy and even kill any serious defence policies. Alas Labour, Conservatives, SNP, Libdims, Plaid, the Green dope for Brighton all want the religion rather than reality.

      4. IanT
        December 15, 2022

        Refusniks are too busy wondering how they are going to pay their gas and electricity bills!

      5. Original Richard
        December 15, 2022

        NigL :

        Nonsense, I’m afraid.

        We in the West may stupidly be making the futile attempt to transition to expensive and unreliable renewables but not the rest of the (developing) world who will be using cheap and reliable fossil fuels in the foreseeable future.

        In fact “climate action” is only number 13 in the UN’s list of “Sustainable Development Goals” and China and India were allowed at a succession of COPs to be effectively exempted from taking any action to reduce CO2 emissions and intend to burn 5.6 billion tons of coal each year alone.

        We may eventually transition away from fossil fuels to low carbon sources but this will be using affordable and reliable nuclear technology – either fission, or hopefully one day – fusion.

        It will never be using renewables.

      6. Mark
        December 15, 2022

        We are now in the situation where wind turbines and steel towers to mount them are made in China. Our own industry is uncompetitive with cheap Chinese energy. In the last quarter it was reported that European wind turbine manufacturers got no new orders at all. That is astonishing in the light of the massive CFD awards in the UK. The dash for wind simply increases our China dependence.

      7. Original Richard
        December 15, 2022

        NigL : “Refuseniks forget the vast investment, on the positive side of the balance sheet to the economy, through R and D and renewables manufacturing, that the political push has created.”

        85% of our wind turbines, 100% of our solar panels and 60% of the raw materials for batteries, motors and generators are supplied by coal-fired powered China. So the transition to renewables will leave us totally exposed to the whims of China.

        Sir Keir Starmer (recent speech to the CBI) and the BBC et al may believe that wind power is nine times cheaper than fossil fuels. But if that’s the case, why is China and India and the RoW building far more coal fired power stations than wind and solar farms?

    6. Ian B
      December 15, 2022

      @Peter Wood The UK Government has designed that to never happen, our wind production is in the hands of ‘Political Whims’ elsewhere. These vast wind farms are not UK/British but are Foreign State owned in the main. The plans and actions to date on other forms of energy production is still focused on them being controlled by the Political Whims of other Nations. It is not that the UK isn’t resourced or doesn’t have the capability, it is the UK Government that doesn’t want us to become resilient and self reliant by design it keeps UK enterprise out of the equation.

  3. Fedupsoutherner
    December 15, 2022

    We were paying €6000 pmh tge other day for imported energy. A hundred times more. Steel wasn’t made as it was too expensive to do so. We are yet to see these prices added to our bills. Do ministers in your party have a screw loose?

    1. Donna
      December 15, 2022

      The screws aren’t loose ….. they were removed a long time ago.

  4. JayGee
    December 15, 2022

    It must be possible to divert all the hot air created by MPs, to contain it in storage and to put it to good use. It’s all being wasted at present.

    1. Ian B
      December 15, 2022

      @JayGee – The Palace of Westminster is poorly insulated and is lacking in energy efficiency so hot air is needed to counterbalance all the ‘waste’

  5. Julian Flood
    December 15, 2022

    Sir John, this morning the UK is relying on methane. We may have decades of this clean, low carbon gas available but the Green Luddites have vetoed exploration.

    It is time for courage. Before the energy rationing and power cuts begin, someone needs to stand up in Parliament and state the simple truth: onshore fracked gas is the cheapest route to prosperity and a vigorous manufacturing sector. Together with a programme of SMR deployment this wonderful fuel – it could even dramatically lower the carbon footprint of our transport sector – could make Net Zero possible without great pain.

    JF
    (And please, no hydrogen. It’s the Basil Brush of fuels.)

    1. Original Richard
      December 15, 2022

      JF :

      Agreed.

  6. Ed M
    December 15, 2022

    The drive for Renewables isn’t going to come from the hysterical greenies but from the need not to be dependent on rogue states for our fuel!

    The scientific technology and will is there – just a question of tapping into (and government and others getting on board).

    Also, clean energy ties in with electric cars and things like that so that we won’t be pumping fossil fuels into our streets and cities where we work and live.

    Fossil fuels will become redundant as gas guzzling cars did in the USA.

    What’s more there’s a tonne of money to be made from the new technology. And we need to support the UK becoming a leader in that.

    So our economy will remain just as strong if not stronger. But the shift from fossil fuels to Renewables is now inevitable. Just a question of when not if. And to what degree people jump on board, embracing the new tech, or holding back, fearful, like luddites.

    1. Donna
      December 15, 2022

      If you live in a small west country town or village, as I do (and in many other non-metropolitan areas in the country) an EV car is simply not viable.

      I will be replacing my small petrol driven car with another one in 2028/2029 and I’ll keep it on the road for as long as I possibly can.

      1. IanT
        December 15, 2022

        That’s what i did earliere this year Donna – and I’m still very happy with that decision.

      2. Lifelogic
        December 15, 2022

        Sales of EV car falling significantly as people work out that they are expensive, the batteries (and cars) depreciate rapidly, very limited ranges, slow and impractical to charge and this is despite the vast fiscal and other market rigging. Oh and keeping you old car causes less CO2 than a new EV too. Should that bother you.

      3. Ed M
        December 15, 2022

        I’m NOT saying you have to buy an EV. Chill out! Don’t be so suspicious!

        All I’m saying is that the EV is quickly going to become the car of choice in metropolitical areas and that ties in with clean fuel but we have to have clean fuel / renewables anyway ’cause we can’t rely anymore on rogue states for it – when the tech is beginning to be there for us to be 100% self sufficient in fuel (including not being at the mercy of international markets whether the fuel comes from rogue states or not).

      4. Mickey Taking
        December 15, 2022

        and on that subject WHY is ordinary unleaded (E5) costing about 153.9 but unleaded (E10) 171.9… ?

    2. Lifelogic
      December 15, 2022

      We have at least 100 years of gas, oil and coal under our feet and seas in the UK. We have nuclear and will controlled fusion energy well before we run out.

      In the Telegraph today:- “We made an appalling mistake so the Bank needs a £188bn bailout
      Taxpayers are going to pay dearly for policymakers’ failure to reverse QE”. Neil Record

      Well not “we” actually, but Mr Sunak, Andrew Bailey the Boris government and the BoE. Sunak also wrong on net zero, the net harm vaccines, climate alarmism, the lockdowns, test and trace, his tax policies borrow and waste policies, his currency debasememts, his energy policies, masks…has he got anything right?

      Labour are still pretending that scrapping Non Dom status and putting VAT on private school fees will raise more tax. They will actually raise far net less so can fund nothing and would do far more harm than good. But Sunak dare not even point this out!

    3. IanT
      December 15, 2022

      I have no issues with renewables per se – but I’d like to hear a practical solution to their shortcomings and currently there isn’t any apart from keeping gas or coal fired base-load power on stand-by.
      And frankly “Good Clean Energy” (whatever that really means) doesn’t do me any good if I can’t afford it.

      1. Lifelogic
        December 15, 2022

        There is of course no such thing as renewable energy it is a political construct. The energy either comes from fusion on the sun (Solar, Wind, Wave, biofuels), the earth rotation (tidal), nuclear reactions in the earth’s core (geothermal) or nuclear fuel (nuclear) or fossil fuels. Of and biofuels/wood is just young fossil fuel but inferior to coal in general in environmental terms.

      2. Ed M
        December 15, 2022

        That’s a fair comment. I’m not trying to stuff my views down you. But just that Conservatives begin to have this debate / conversation more – and not for some to be so defensive about it (not forgetting renewables is ultimately so that we can be 100% self sufficient in fuel and that we can achieve thanks increasingly to science and the spirit of entrepreneurship which are ultimately very Tory things – or should be – as opposed to being luddites stuck in the past).

  7. Ed M
    December 15, 2022

    Btw, I’m not defending wind power specifically or wind in its current form. But Renewables in general (and for mainly ECONOMIC / CAPITALIST reasons). And Renewable energy that’s way beyond what any of us can even envisage because we’re NOT scientists. But that we need to put more trust in what science can do to make us independent from rogue states for our fuel!

    Only scientists – NOT politicians – can ultimately argue about the viability or not of Renewable energy. And the major scientists and developers of tech (capitalists) are all completely keen and focused on Renewable energy. It’s only a group of fat-cigar smoking economists who are against but they are fast becoming smaller and smaller as a group and a quaint anachronism.

    1. formula57
      December 15, 2022

      @ Ed M – and fortunately the “major scientists” involved in energy are quite different from those “the major scientists …. all completely keen and focused on …” lockdowns and mass vaccination. No need for politicians to ask them the right questions and evaluate the answers for us then?

      1. Ed M
        December 15, 2022

        Hi, I’m talking about scientists who are involved in high level technological innovation in big business.

    2. Lifelogic
      December 15, 2022

      Crony capitalist trying to far government grants perhaps!

      1. Lifelogic
        December 15, 2022

        farm government grants – not far!

      2. Ed M
        December 15, 2022

        But government does need to get involved in big technical / infrastructure projects at some level (i.e. the roads and bridges around our country, channel tunnel, railways etc – can’t leave it all 100% to private business. And same for helping the UK to become 100% self-sufficient in fuel. Although most of the more specific work done by private business).

        If these roads etc aren’t there, the private business will go somewhere else. And it’s not just roads etc. It’s also culture. Private business, in particular high tech, likes to move into areas which are cultural and nice places to live and work (Berlin is a great example of this. And Frankfurt is a great example of why it can’t compete with London as a financial centre as too many people just find Frankfurt too BORING a place to live and work. Really. Simple as that. Life’s too short. A husband and wife want to live somewhere where’s the some culture and nice place to live etc).

    3. IanT
      December 15, 2022

      Not true Ed – there are Scientists who are willing to admit there are big problems with the current renewables (Wind and Solar) but they never get the opportunity to do so. Personally, I believe the “fat-cigar smoking” people who are in favour of much of this carbon trading and net zero nonsense are the ones making money from it. If you don’t want to look closer at the physics involved, then at least DO look at the economics – and the frankly insane way we pay for renewables. Wind energy cheaper? Clearly not when the wind doesn’t blow and certainly not when it’s tied to gas prices.

      1. Ed M
        December 15, 2022

        Hi. I agree. It’s definitely not black and white.

        Another argument, though, that we need to discuss more in Conservative circles is the much bigger problem of lack of PROCREATION in our society. An economy can’t function if there isn’t the manpower to run it (and whose going to look after and pay for the old). This is going to become a much bigger problem that the one of fuel (and whether we should stick to fossil fuel or go the full hog into renewables etc).

        And this problem of lack of procreation is already proving a problem for Brexiters (this isn’t an attack on Brexit. Just a fact. There’s a shortage of manpower, already, in our own country – and things are just going to get worse.

        1. Ed M
          December 15, 2022

          No country in the West is really looking at how to resolve this issue of native population not procreating enough——except Hungary (through strong tax cuts for families with more children – in various ways)!
          Seriously, this is the most pressing problem for our country by far. Because how can you have a strong economy without a workforce?! If you don’t have the native population, then you have to import workers. And where are you going to import them from? The most obvious answer is Europe (not because of the EU but because it’s easier for lots of reasons).

          1. Ed M
            December 15, 2022

            But for every worker you important from Europe or from wherever, you have to important a whole family (say a family of FIVE). So 5 x more people than if the native population provided that extra worker through sufficient procreation.

          2. IanT
            December 16, 2022

            There is also the question of why (in the longer term) we need to increase our numbers?
            The usual reason given is that with an aging population, we need younger people to pay their taxes and take care of us Oldies. Well the Baby Boomers will wash through and be gone in 15-20 years. Automation will increasingly remove the need for many existing jobs (taxi & train drivers, postmen, grocery ‘pickers’, check-out assistants etc) – so we certainly don’t need mass unskilled “labour” – we need highly skilled folk. So start re-training those who already live here for this changing world and start down-sizing the (Socialist) State. This would free up labour and money for more productive work and we perhaps then we could get along very nicely as we are.

        2. IanT
          December 16, 2022

          There are a number of issues here Ed. The ladies in my family are having children later in life (late 30’s) than was the case ‘when I were a lad’ partly because they have “careers” and partly because they need to continue working to pay the mortgage. My wife stopped working once we had children, only returning to the workplace once they were older. My salary then was enough to support my family and pay the mortgage. Miscarriages also seem more common these days. M aybe it wasn’t talked about back then or maybe it’s that older Mums with very busy, streeful lives are more prone to do so?

    4. Mark
      December 15, 2022

      Scientists are poorly placed to evaluate energy economics. They earn an income from being commissioned for research. You need a combination of engineers and economists and traders to evaluate the viability of energy systems. The engineers will tell you what is possible, and what inputs are needed, and the outputs and waste that will be generated. The economists will calculate the costs. The traders will work out how to run the system to maximise profit, and what the geopolitical risks are of depending on particular sources of supply.

    5. Syd
      December 15, 2022

      Can I suggest you substitute “Engineers” for “Scientists”?

  8. Mick
    December 15, 2022

    what-happens-when-there-is-no-wind
    Simply put a turbine in the HOC there’s lots of hot air there

    1. Lifelogic
      December 15, 2022

      Well human food and drink, grown, cooked, fed to MPs, to produce a bit of hot air and convert back to electrical energy sounds almost as mad as the current energy policy.

      Put in a mega joule of energy farming the food get back a joule at best perhaps perhaps link up the exercise bikes in their Gym to.. An Earth Shot prize application next year perhaps?

  9. John McDonald
    December 15, 2022

    Sir John, you use the wind to generate hydrogen gas which can be stored like other gas. You can then use for cars, goods vehicles, trains and planes. Like all new processes needs a bit of development work and investment.
    The current use of rechargeable batteries is short sighted. Aluminium batteries are better. They are like the ordinary batterys generating electricity by chemical reaction. The broken down Aluminum is recycled. A replacement Aluminum cartridge inserted in the battery and off you go again. Too many Politicians and accountants in power and not enough Engineers with a voice.

    1. Mark
      December 15, 2022

      You need a bit of economics. Shell have been running a hydrogen electrolyser at their Wesseling refinery in the REFHYNE project. They recently published some conclusions

      The number of hours where
      power is cheaper than natural
      gas + CO 2 would have limited utilisation factor of
      electrolyser operation to only 10% in 2021

      In addition, since mid
      2021 an increase in price delta
      between electrolyser H 2 and SMR H 2 has been observed

      That is shorthand for “we need eyewatering subsidies”. SMR here means steam methane reforming, which is the way most of the refinery hydrogen is produced.

    2. Lifelogic
      December 15, 2022

      Electricity concerted to hydrogen and back to electricity will waste about 70%+ of the energy and cost a fortune too!

  10. Donna
    December 15, 2022

    Our political class is captured by the UN, EU and WEF.

    The UN wants western nations levelled down to parity with the 2nd and, eventually, 3rd world. Their chosen method is the climate change scam.

    The EU wants energy-interdependence: so they can rule the member states. We are still, to all intents and purposes, following the EU’s policy.

    The WEF wants a great reset and to completely control the lives of the serfs who, they intend, will own nothing.

    I’m prepared to believe that some of our MPs are so dim they couldn’t work out for themselves that intermittent, unreliable so-called green energy would not keep the lights on.

    I’m prepared to believe that some of them are also so terrified of the Eco Nutters, the BBC etc and of going against the climate change narrative that they don’t dare speak out.

    But basically, I believe that many of our Ministers and MPs are effectively owned lock, stock and barrel by the UN, EU and WEF and are serving THEM, not the British people. And that is why we have no energy security; the cost of heating our homes has tripled in a year and thousands of elderly and vulnerable people will die of the cold this winter.

    The Westminster-Uni Party has blood on its hands.

    1. anon
      December 17, 2022

      It would seem that way.
      Or is fusion really around the corner and the disruption to the world is required now rather than later?

      Why else would they plan and execute to fail.

      It seems we have plenty of old and new technology which can in effect deliver cheap energy on demand. They just dont seem to want to.
      EG no capacity to actually move the power to where it is needed or can be used. No closed loop hydro or other cheap mass storage solutions. Using dirt cheap materials.

      Obviously the cost implications of the strategy would need to be costed and a way made to ensure it was pragmatic.

      Perhaps re-nationalization, via a national pension fund, is the way to ensure that joined up infrastructure is provided in return for an old age pension.

      Others suggest project outputs should be integrated with multiple technologies to ensure that a minimum level of output.

  11. BOF
    December 15, 2022

    What is it Sir John, that when you raise this issue, that MP’s seem incapable of understanding such simple primary school arithmatic? Have they been so captured by the false narrative of CC/GW that they are prepared to believe in witchcraft?

    New coal fired power stations are super efficient and gas even more so but start stop operation will always make them very inefficient. Also, what a poor use the manpower.

    Demand that subsidies are cut for renewables and that all power generators operate on a level playing field. We will soon see who is left.

    1. Sharon
      December 15, 2022

      Andrew Montford of Global Warming Policy Foundation stated on GB News earlier in the week, that sadly, a large proportion of MPs seem to genuinely believe that the Net Zero policies will save the world.

      Tens of thousands of useful idiots have been taken on board to implement this transition to serfdom via the saving of the world con. I sincerely worry, that this long march cannot be stopped. So many governments are just totally ignoring majority votes against their actions.

      1. Lifelogic
        December 15, 2022

        Well either these green loon MPs are idiots and actually believe in this religion or they are lying or both.

  12. Sea_Warrior
    December 15, 2022

    Sadly, most of your colleagues – brainwashed by Greta & Co – don’t share your sensible beliefs. And today, at Holyrood, the SNP will be putting the ludicrous pursuit of ‘Net Zero’ at the heart of their budget.
    P.S. O/T, I see that it’s Holyrood Budget day. I’m wondering what happens to any deficits/surpluses that arise from the government there exercising ther tax-rate setting powers.

  13. Old Albion
    December 15, 2022

    Agree with most of what you have written Sir JR. With one caveat. Putting our wind supply in and around Scotland is a foolish tactic. It enables wee jimmy Sturgeon to hold England to ransom (wouldn’t she love that) And if (when) the Scots get their independence, they will charge England extortionate rates for the electricity exported here (replacing Salmond’s “oor oil claim”)

    1. Fedupsoutherner
      December 15, 2022

      We’ve been saying that for a long time. Add to that she will say the oil is hers when it’s English energy bill payers that have fronted much of it.

    2. a-tracy
      December 15, 2022

      https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/explainers-60945298 There seems to be a lot of farms around England too but they don’t generate as much.
      BBC shows where current UK-funded investment has gone.
      As you say, if Scotland leaves the union does England still own the shares in the wind farms or did we just give the money away? Who owns them?

    3. Mark
      December 15, 2022

      I have noticed that in the current Dunkelflaute the lowlands of Scotland have been rather short of power supply. The Highlands have coped with a combination of hydro and Peterhead power station. The lowlands problem becomes severe when the Scottish nuclear power stations close. They would be completely dependent on supply from England to keep the lights on. They lost their independence when Sturgeon blew up Longannet coal fired power after Cockenzie was also closed.

  14. Narrow Shoulders
    December 15, 2022

    Practicalities, practicalities – get on board with the doctrine Sir John. The net zero zealots will not listen.

    Don’t you know there’s a “Climate Crisis” so we must be seen to do SOMETHING!

  15. Ian B
    December 15, 2022

    ‘What happens if there is no Wind’

    Yesterday our Parliament, those that in a Democracy are voted by the people to serve the people, to make, amend and repeal the laws of the land ‘knocked-the-wind out’ of the UK of having any idea becoming a democracy.

    The UK Parliament confirmed it was not the UK Parliament, that makes, amends or repeals laws inside the UK – but a Foreign Court that they remain subordinate too.

    No other Democracy in the World is subordinate or acts as a Colony to a Court that the people cannot vote for the laws they in-act.

    There is no point in a Parliament were the MP’s don’t understand their purpose, and don’t understand the meaning of a democracy. It needs to go.

  16. Cuibono
    December 15, 2022

    They should’ve asked Windy Miller!
    And Mystic Meg too come to that! The wonderful modelling didn’t predict this winter.
    At least now anyone voting for a greencrap agenda will know what they will get.
    Basically FROZEN!

  17. Beecee
    December 15, 2022

    When the wind does not blow?
    This has always been the elephant in he room for the Government, Opposition front bench, Net Zero enthusiasts and ‘green’ campaigners. It is a question they never answer.

    Better to ignore it than to admit they are wrong!

    1. Original Richard
      December 15, 2022

      Beecee :

      The “green campaigners” fully appreciate that energy will be expensive and intermittent.

      In fact, the making of fossil fuels expensive through limiting supply is one of the methods to force through the transition to renewables.

      The agitprop organisation, aka the BBC, are tasked with so frightening the UK public that the world will end that we will be prepared to accept expensive and intermittent energy with restrictions of travel, heating and food in order to save the world.

      Watch the HoL “Environment and Climate Change Committee” evidence session of Tuesday 16 November 2021 on the subject: “Mobilising action on climate change and environment: behaviour change.”

      1. Beecee
        December 15, 2022

        I must admit I have not seen many banners asking us to support a fossil free future using energy which is green, expensive, and intermittent!
        With the landscape outside of my window this morning ground frost white and the temperature at -4, I am not sure it would be a vote winner.

  18. Dave Andrews
    December 15, 2022

    I looked up the price of wholesale electricity costs over the past few days. It looks like the UK exports energy when the price is low and imports energy when it’s high.
    Put the UK on the sucker list.

    1. Cuibono
      December 15, 2022

      +100
      Not to mention the “suicide list”!

  19. Bob Dixon
    December 15, 2022

    Forgetting wind generation.
    Have we sufficient power stations to satisfy our demand for electricity?

    1. Lifelogic
      December 15, 2022

      No and certainly not if they idiotically want to change to EV cars and heat pumps instead and gas and oil boilers. No where near enough and nor will the distribution network cope.

  20. Ian B
    December 15, 2022

    In importing our energy from areas were the political views can change and internal circumstances overnight is not the action of a Government in control.

    The UK does little to encourage a UK economy and it ensures for what little there is is held hostage to external political whims, even when it is internal to just the UK.

    The UK Government has no power and no influence as to the UK energy market, not by accident but by design. We have the abilities and the resources. Just as they can’t demand wind or sun its out of their control. They have also ensured as a deliberate policy that all other energy capable production is in the hands of the Political whims of Foreign Governments. The UK Government refuses to permit UK enterprise and resilience to exist. UK Nuclear even in our own domain is controlled by the French State, the Rolls Royce SMRs are already predominately French owned.

    These Foreign Governments are doing nothing wrong and they are encouraged by our Government. But they would never permit the reverse situation to happen, the UK Government controlling their power. Elections happen, politics change, so the UK Government has removed resilience and security from the UK. You would have to conclude the UK Parliament for the most part and its Government completely is anti UK and is in neglect of its purpose in ‘being’

  21. Cuibono
    December 15, 2022

    Haven’t NATO/Ukraine and the now much-police raided EU been somewhat violent?
    And the blowing-up of pipelines doesn’t do much for gas supplies, surely?
    This winter of misery has all been visited on us by the same selfish, childish, moronic mindset that forced us to cover our faces with highly symbolic MASKS….because Scotland was doing it!
    Where are the Statesmen?

  22. No Longer Anonymous
    December 15, 2022

    Let’s face it. Greenism is attached to Diversity, Inclusion and Equality – all of it taught at great cost in workplaces, schools and universities and must not be challenged.

    You’re whistling into the wind (if there were any.)

    Even under 13 years of Tory rule with an 80 seat majority (free of the EU) we are rushing headlong into the bleak cultural, psychological and economic wastelands of Marxism at such pace and completeness that soon even you, Sir John, won’t be needed as a cover for the abolition of Britain and the abolition of freedom.

    Never mind scrutinising what workers do for a pay demand … what do we get from our politicians these days ??? Why do we even need them ? No other trade is in need of more reform and change than your own.

  23. Mickey Taking
    December 15, 2022

    Battery storage? no chance – even if you could reverse the EV power into the house it wouldn’t supply very much.

  24. Anselm
    December 15, 2022

    I am constantly staggered by the sheer stupidity – yup I mean it – of very clever people. I don’t need to give all Boris Johnson’ credentials but they really are top drawer – far better than mine! Rishi Sunak is the golden boy of top educational establishments and Goldman Sachs too.
    But – hello! – the wind bloweth where it listeth.
    You might have thought that all you clever people would have realised that. Good to see coal coming back today and also dear old ancient nuclear power stations gallantly providing the goods. Oil is reliably carrying the major weight. Even OCGT (used only in emergencies) is being brought, briefly, in at the moment.
    How do I know all this – an OAP stuck in the middle of nowhere? Well, I go on this site (https://gridwatch.org.uk/) and have been doing so for some years now. So I have watched in disbelief all that time. (Christopher Booker was onto this in the 1990s.)
    Remember, this cold snap, which stretches right across Europe and has affected large parts of Asia, the Arctic and America too, is not Global Warming. It is, of course, as we all know, just weather.

  25. No Longer Anonymous
    December 15, 2022

    Off topic, please

    “Destroy the business model of Channel crossing people smugglers.”

    At the apex of that business model is the taxpayer funded UK welfare system and the Government’s willingness to let it be exploited.

    The Tories have sided with illegal immigrants against their voters and everyone can now see it. No EU membership and no Labour MPs to oppose strong action.
    So why are we still waiting ?

    There were no greater tests of Tory Brexit than this and extricating the UK intact from the EU.

  26. formula57
    December 15, 2022

    “For more than a decade I have been asking Energy Ministers how do we keep the lights on ….” – indeed and I recall the letter to then Energy Minister Fallon that you posted on this diary and that, shamefully and disgracefully, went without reply, never mind answer. (That of course led to me designating Fallon correspondence-challenged and was followed by his political demise (albeit he was for a while promoted to the Cabinet).)

    The Government can add energy policy to its signal failures. It has hazarded us all through its neglect.

  27. a-tracy
    December 15, 2022

    The BBC says we have 11,500 wind turbines, 2652 turbines on 43 offshore farms.
    8827 bigger turbines on 2604 on-shore wind farms producing 5GW. Most of the energy comes from offshore wind. Sir Kier would lift any bans for onshore immediately in 2024. These 11,500 produce 24% of UK electricity in 2020, dropping to 21% in 2021 because of the wind! Little old UK had the biggest offshore capacity until China took the title. Who owns them? Who has paid for them? How much subsidy did they get? What did we demand in return like dragons den a share in the organisation?

    They want 50GW generated by offshore wind by 2030 (5GW from deeper sea platforms) approval time down from 4 years to 1, around 7,000 more wind turbines.

    I wish Elon instead of investing £44bn in twitter had put his money into roof solar and battery storage to enable us to be independent for a lot of the year and not dependent on our governments.

    1. Mark
      December 15, 2022

      If you want to depend on roof solar in the UK you would need about 1MWh of storage per household to cover the winter, assuming just normal electricity use – I.e. no EV or electric heating. A Tesla Powerwall is about £8,000, and stores 13.5kWh. So you would need about 75 of them at a cost of around £600,000, replaced every 10 years.

      1. Original Richard
        December 15, 2022

        Mark :

        Thanks for this piece of sanity.

        So the cost for 28m households would be £17 trillion.

      2. a-tracy
        December 15, 2022

        Thanks for explaining that Mark. I appreciate it. Would a southern roof of solar panels get enough sunlight to power a house and top up a battery car from April to September in England or not?

        I remember our companies first mobile phone, We had a large battery in a shoulder bag, it used to drain like a sink plug. One can live in hope that there is a solution to power storage.

        1. Mark
          December 16, 2022

          You would need to size the solar installation to meet annual demand, plus storage round trip losses for a less sunny year. It would need to be bigger the further North you are, or if you live in a cloudier climate, or if your house doesn’t have a convenient South facing roof not overshadowed by trees or other buildings. But the solar panel cost is very small beer compared with the storage cost.

  28. Berkshire Alan
    December 15, 2022

    You state the obvious John, But the State ain’t listening.

  29. agricola
    December 15, 2022

    SJR you are lecturing in an asylum. The midterm answer to our power needs are RR, SMRs in about 10 years with a major APS shortly after that. Long term say 30 to 50 years we might have Fusion Energy.

    In the next 10 years we are dependent on gas oil and coal. We can have all three at unpredictable cost from virtue signalling sources all over the World. Alternatively we have them all beneath the surface of the UK and its territorial waters at, were we intelligent enough to set up our own payment structure, stable prices.

    Wind power is at best, due to its unreliability only suitable for use in Hydrogen production, pumping water uphill for hydro electric production, and selling to the grid or export customers if its unsubsidised price is attractive. Any imported energy or source of energy leaves the UK strategically very vulnerable, and is politically dumb.

  30. Ian B
    December 15, 2022

    From the Telegraph
    How to make Global Britain work – Liam Fox
    It cannot just be a nice post-Brexit soundbite. Global Britain needs to become central to all we do if we want to lead among world economies
    https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2022/12/14/how-make-global-britain-work/

    All sounds good but in reality a bit lame, he dives around but doesn’t dare say it out loud – The Government must and needs to start doing what it was elected and paid for, Manage the UK

  31. RDM
    December 15, 2022

    The vast majority of “Green Hydrogen” generated today, is done so using Nuclear Power, and in the case of the Swedish Steel making, they are using spare capacity from a Nuclear Power Station.

    Electrolysis using Renewable Electricity, and then held within a rather large Battery, is still a pipe dream; although theoretically possible. How many of these battery’s do we have? Let alone one large enough to capture the sort of supply we will need?

    I always end up thinking that it could be possible by pumping water into a Reservoir, while the wind is blowing?
    But, even then you have to ask; What water? Sea water?

    And, at what cost???

    Isn’t the whole point for us, to have a Cheap Energy policy, for industry and domestic users?

    No cheap energy strategy equals, no high value jobs, high cost of living, and a much larger trade deficit, with energy insecurity?

  32. Bloke
    December 15, 2022

    Did the Govt not foresee the effects of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine years before now?
    There have been about ten different Secretaries of Defence since 2006. Did not a single one of them consider our loss of energy security would be a major risk?
    However, Gavin Williamson did tell the Russians to ‘go away’ in his impersonation of a growling voice. Perhaps if Theresa May had realised what he was annoyed about, she might have taken some effective action 5 years ago, in time to prevent what now prevails with limited supply. Some of our citizens are dying in a battle to keep warm.

    1. Mickey Taking
      December 15, 2022

      We are back to the need to regularly update the various Risk Registers.
      Who could have predicted Covid, none or useless PPE, too few wards, too few nurses, GPs refusing to see patients, 7m waiting for procedures….
      All should be in RRs – and worse ….What If – A hospital collapses, major fire, big cities get gridlocked for ambulance, fire engines and Poluice vehicles, some malign actor kills mobile comms….all this nightmare stuff ought to be in RRs.

      1. Philip P.
        December 15, 2022

        Who could have predicted a public health emergency, MT? The NHS, for one. They ran Operation Cygnus in 2016, a pandemic influenza exercise which tested the ability of the NHS to deal with just such a crisis. The report was kept from the public until 2020, so what was discovered about NHS preparedness probably wasn’t very flattering. Or there was the exercise ‘Event 201’, run at Johns Hopkins University in the US in October 2019, sponsored by the WEF and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. It simulated a global coronavirus pandemic and the ability of health organisations to deal with it. Again, this didn’t seem to get much attention.

        How much notice did our government take? I don’t know, but no-one can say that the risks weren’t foreseen. You’re right, though, that there was a lack of preparedness.

      2. Bloke
        December 15, 2022

        As a nation we tend to be considerate and kind in helping others in difficulty around the world.
        However, if our own Govt lacks the foresight to protect us, we risk being destroyed and incapable of helping anyone.

  33. Mike Wilson
    December 15, 2022

    we may find that investment in battery storage on a huge scale allows us to keep electricity from windy days to manage windless ones.

    Mr. Redwood, you need to stop making remarks like that. If you relied on wind to provide half the 40gw the grid provides, you would need a quarter of a million Tesla 83kw/hr batteries to power half the grid for an hour. You’d need 6 million of them to power half the grid for a day. 42 million to cope with a windless week in mid winter. And so on. Completely impractical.

    1. Dave Andrews
      December 15, 2022

      I also did some calculations recently suggesting liquified air can supply similar energy to a battery. At least then only the containers need mining of ores rather than the contents.

  34. Ed
    December 15, 2022

    Everyone knows that this Conservative (ha ha) government actually WANTS to destroy this country
    -rampant inflation
    -open doors immigration
    -lunatic net zero
    -money printing
    -woke/selective policing
    -woke everything
    -useless degrees
    -attack on free speech
    -betrayal of democratic mandate to leave EU
    etc, etc, etc,
    The question is WHY?

    1. a-tracy
      December 15, 2022

      Ed
      1/ The BoE could have taken JR’s advice but investopedia also says “Economists have identified several possible causes for inflation from rising wages to increased aggregate demand to an increase in the supply of money. In 2022, inflation rates in the U.S. and around the world rose to their highest levels since the early 1980s.”
      The NMW/NLW rose in April 2022 by nearly 7%.
      It is due to rise again in April 2023 by nearly 10% [pay demands for differentials will explode as they are now].
      WEF says “Inflation is driven by food and energy costs in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, inflation has been exacerbated by the Russian invasion of Ukraine.”

    2. Lifelogic
      December 15, 2022

      Useless degrees with £50k of student debt and 7% interest.
      Net harm vaccines and unneeded vaccines now even pushed at children 6 month old.
      Vast tax increases making benefits/black market or emigration preferable and investment unattractive.
      Crony fast door capitalism for PPE, renewables etc.
      HS2
      Test and trace
      Eat our to help out the moronic lockdowns
      The Duff NHS
      The insane energy policy…

  35. James Morley
    December 15, 2022

    I don’t know how or why you chose to publish this article without making any reference to the British Energy Security Security Strategy, http://WWW.GOV. UK, April 2022. We should soon all be checking on the UK Governments performance against the 2022 milestones. Your article rightly stresses the unreliability of wind energy but fails to make mention of plans to provide Base Load Capacity (including nuclear) and the storage capacity needed when the wind doesn’t blow. Also you missed the opportunity to mention several British companies that address the energy storage space for example, HighviewPower, Bury, Manchester – 50MW/ 300 MW Hours; Yorkshire – 200MW / 2.5 GW hours x 18. These are, or should be, Good News Stories for both Energy Security and for Levelling Up.

    1. Mark
      December 15, 2022

      The BESS is a cartoon (and it looks like one too), not a serious piece of work. It makes bold statements without any evidence that they are achievable or would work properly even if achieved.

      Highview is one off a number of companies eyeing the subsidies available from government for non battery storage projects. Its technology has a low real efficiency (they are inclined to quote higher figures that assume they can get energy for free). Their technology competes against slightly longer duration batteries, and might work to help shift some solar output from midday to the evening in summer time. It it not going to solve the problems of two weeks of low wind in midwinter.

  36. Bert Young
    December 15, 2022

    Thank goodness for the Atomic Research Scientists and the recent break- through in energy sourcing . The future from their efforts will keep us all warm .

  37. Original Richard
    December 15, 2022

    What’s the reason for our unilateral Net Zero Strategy (UNZS) to reduce our 1% contribution to global CO2 emissions?

    The (developing) rest of the world, including China and India, are not going to transition from cheap reliable fossil fuel energy to expensive, intermittent renewables. “Climate action” is only number 13 in the UN’s list of “Sustainable Development Goals”. So CO2 emissions, and hence levels, will continue to increase. There are 4 possible scenarios :

    1) As predicted by the UN IPCC/HMG/BBC/IR we have a runaway global temperature rise and the world burns and life is extinguished. So our UNZS will be a complete waste of money.

    2) Rising CO2 levels raise the temperature enough to bring more extreme weather events (Illogical because reducing temperature difference between the poles and the equator reduces the energy available for extreme weather). So our UNZS will be a waste of money when we should have been spending money instead on protecting ourselves against floods, draughts, storms and rising sea levels etc..

    3) Rising CO2 levels does not produce any temperature increase or extreme weather events (because of IR saturation). So all the money spent on UNZS will be wasted.

    4) A new low carbon technology arises, such as nuclear fusion, which is so cheap and reliable that renewables instantly become stranded assets and our UNZS will have been a complete waste of money.

    Note : Fossils fuels will still be required to produce the necessary chemicals for pharmaceuticals, plastics, fertlisiers etc etc.

    So is the reason for our unilateral Net Zero Strategy just simply to destroy our economy?

  38. Original Richard
    December 15, 2022

    This whole article and discussion is based upon the false premise that anthropological CO2 emissions are causing catastrophic global warming.

    There is no empirical or theoretical evidence that CO2, let alone man-made CO2, even controls temperature. In fact the Antarctic Vostok ice core data shows CO2 following temperature and IR saturation severely limits CO2’s warming effects.

    The real climate change deniers are the BBC and the green religion. They deny there was any climate change before the Industrial Revolution. So they believe there was no ice age which ended 11,000 years ago, no Roman or Medieval warm periods, no Little Ice Age etc, none of which can be caused by anthropogenic emissions of CO2.

    Let alone all the ice ages and warm periods when there was no ice at the poles for the last 500 million years since the start of the Cambrian explosion and when CO2 levels were many times today’s levels.

    There are other possible explanations for earth’s temperature changes which involve the sun such as sun spot activity (long and short cycles), varying distance from the sun and the Milankovitch cycles.

  39. boffin
    December 15, 2022

    For some years, no truly economical means of storing wind energy is going to be available.

    Not only has the methane on which we now have to rely in poor wind condititions become very expensive, but it is itself relatively difficult and costly to store in bulk and – most importantly! – our HP gas supply grid is now old and very vulnerable (especially to hostile action … think Nordstream). Failure of the methane supply grid will lead to catastrophic loss of electricity generation when the weather is unkind.

    The gas turbines used in our CCGT power stations are essentially aircraft engines which were designed to burn a mix of higher paraffin-series fractions than methane – jet fuel. Jet fuel is easy to store in bulk, and cheap.

    To provide security of our electricity supply, our most urgent priority should be to do the easy thing and provide jet fuel capability at our CCGT power stations RIGHT NOW!

    1. boffin
      December 16, 2022

      (By way of illustration, the main engines of our aircraft carriers are Rolls-Royce Trent gas turbines in generator configuration, burning a lower-grade jet fuel which is somewhat similar to diesel).

  40. Mike Wilson
    December 15, 2022

    I have been watching the grid a lot recently at http://grid.iamkate.com (which is a brilliant site that displays the current grid situation in a pie chart showing all the various elements of power generation and what we are importing and exporting). We generally export more than we import and, in particular, are exporting to France.

    1. Mickey Taking
      December 15, 2022

      at the cheapest possible rate, but we buy at a rate that makes your body shiver.

  41. Mike Wilson
    December 15, 2022

    Further to comment on grid – we are now importing from France. We were exporting earlier.

    As I write this, solar is producing 7.6% of our electricity needs. Even in the middle of winter. Cover our fields with solar panels.

    1. Mickey Taking
      December 15, 2022

      what happens to the ones with snow covering them?

      1. Mike Wilson
        December 15, 2022

        You brush it off.

        1. Mickey Taking
          December 16, 2022

          how many times have you gone upon your roof to do that? I’m impressed!

    2. Stred
      December 16, 2022

      Solar only works for a few hours in winter at times of low demand.

  42. Elli ron
    December 15, 2022

    The green cult is not about logical solutions to global warming, their central target is making people poorer so that they spend less on energy, goods and travel.
    You ask them how importing coal, gas, oil, steel and manufactured goods makes any sense when doing all this locally is in fact greener, the answer is: we force you to buy more expensive energy and products – it will make you buy less and we the green cult win.
    The cost of the West going green will be domination by China, which is the most contemptuous towards the aims of the green cult, so we must stop the greens who are truly immoral and cost the most to the poor.

  43. Stred
    December 15, 2022

    SJR. The sums are so simple. We have to build enough capacity to power the UK for a period in the middle of winter when the wind doesn’t blow for a week of longer, as has happened before, and solar is negligible.

    The late Prof MacKay laid out the options in great detail with all the demands and supplies possible. He suggested that we try to design our own plans. He showed five options. But he wrote that whatever we choose, the sums must add up. Before he passed, he said that if we wanted to stop using fossil fuel, for whatever reason, the solution was to build nuclear and run it all the time, rather than intermittent renewables.
    Only a few MPs seem to realise that we must make it add up. Almost all of our nuclear stations will be gone by 2030, half in 2 years time. No firm can invest in new gas or coal stations. Hydrogen is very wasteful and expensive according to the CCC and they propose methane conversion with carbon capture instead. None of this has been made to work at scale or economically.
    What is it with these innumerate politicians? Do they really want a Green disaster with us freezing and industry moving to cheaper countries? Are they thick or corrupt? It must be difficult to work alongside such creatures.

  44. glen cullen
    December 15, 2022

    No wind results in more illegal immigrant boats 401

    Yesterday From 00:00 to 23:59 14 December 2022
    Number of migrants detected in small boats: 401
    Number of boats detected: 8

    Enough Said

  45. SimonR
    December 15, 2022

    Dear Sir John,

    The issue is one of incentives. At the present time, wind owners are paid for switching off when their power is too much for the grid (including when it can’t get on to the grid due to poor connections). Constraint payments used to be worth many times more than actually providing power – they have come down, but they are still worth more than providing power, and some windfarms still make more money from switching off than being on. The wind sector would be extremely foolish to invest in storage, because it would be against their financial interests. The Government must therefore act to reduce constraint payments over time with a view to eliminating them in the medium term. THEN we will see those companies invest in storage.

    Regarding storage methods, I don’t think batteries are the way forward as they only store the power for a day. You can have whole years that are ‘low wind’. There are big pumped hydro storage projects ready to go in Scotland and Wales, but they can’t find investment – the above is why. But the whole discussion is a red herring whilst wind providers don’t need or want to store their energy.

    Regards,

    SR

    1. Stred
      December 16, 2022

      According to the analysis by Professor MacKay in SEWTHA, the capacity for additional pumped storage in the UK is limited to perhaps a day’s consumption. We need weeks.

    2. Mark
      December 16, 2022

      It has been discovered that wind farms can have their cake and eat it if they have integrated storage. They can claim for curtailment payments while using the generated energy to fill their storage. The stored energy (less round trip losses) can be resold later when winds are slight. So as consumers we get to subsidise the storage.

  46. glen cullen
    December 15, 2022

    Meanwhile – China’s daily coal output hit an all time high in November as miners increased operations to meet higher demand for heating. And yet the West still cripples itself with Net Zero targets.

  47. Mickey Taking
    December 16, 2022

    and todays prize for the most entries is……roll of drums….

    Ed M (I think).

  48. Mark
    December 16, 2022

    1. We need to lower the cost and increase the supply of fuels for dispatchable generation. Windfall taxes that prevent new drilling and exploration for gas should be cancelled. Adding carbon taxes that have to be reimbursed in consumer and industry subsidies is pointless.
    2. We need to ensure there will be adequate dispatchable capacity to keep the lights on. That means investing in nuclear, and also in more gas generation because of nuclear lead times and the anticipated closure of existing capacity and the need for flexibility to handle wind variations.

  49. Mark
    December 16, 2022

    3. It is time to stop pretending that storage can solve the intermittency problems of renewables on anything other than the short timescales that otherwise risk grid instability. Even so, these storage solutions add enormously to cost of balancing the system. They do nothing to handle seasonal and inter annual variations and Dunkelflaute.
    4. In particular hydrogen is not an economic storage option. Using it entails purifying water for electrolysis (especially if done at sea where desalination is needed), and then a PEM electrolyser which between them will eat up 40-45% of the electricity input. The resulting hydrogen can then be used at best at 60% efficiency to generate electricity. “Surplus” electricity has a cost: you must invest in additional capacity to produce surpluses, which are themselves very intermittent and variable in size. That makes it uneconomic to exploit all the generated surplus, with much of it having to be curtailed. The pincer effect of these facts means that the real cost of generating electricity from stored hydrogen is a large multiple of the so called levellised cost of wind. Proposals to feed this with the most costly offshore floating wind farms just multiply the cost. That is all before we consider the actual storage and handling requirements that add another layer of cost and difficulty.

    We must stop relying on unicorns. They are myths.

  50. Stred
    December 16, 2022

    Hello SJR. I see that we are paying between £450 or more for peak electricity but still supplying the French during their nighttime heating short. Could you ask ministers how much we are charging the French for our expensive electricity.?

  51. Stred
    December 16, 2022

    Shortage. Sorry about the invisible auto correct.

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