Click images for more details



Recent comments
Recent posts
Currently discussing

A few sites I've stumbled across recently....

Powered by Squarespace
« Josh 51 | Main | Ministerial meetings »

More workers sacrificed to green god

Chris Huhne's extrarodinary mishandling of the UK's energy policy continues apace. It appears that users of virgin wood are being priced out of the market for their raw materials because of subsidies to bioenergy companies who compete for supply.

Mike McKenna, director of Kronospan's Chirk factory, said the subsidies for electricity generators which use biomass encouraged them to take "the easy option" of burning freshly felled timber.

He told BBC Radio Wales: "The easy option for them is cutting down trees and burning them for electricity generation.

"That's because the subsidies are worth more than twice the value of the wood.

Quite, quite mad.

PrintView Printer Friendly Version

Reader Comments (53)

On Energy supply in general why is it that the UK government doesn't want to fund this itself. If we've decided to build 8 new nukes it can't be that inefficient to tender for contracts and then directly finance them rather than fudge some kind of private financing deal. Surely the next power station, of whatever type, is pretty similar to the last one. Surely the energy infrastructure of the country is one of the most important things for 'Government' to look after, like the transport infrastructure which definitely seems to have government funding.

Oct 29, 2010 at 7:13 PM | Unregistered CommenterRob B

Here are some of the Feed-in Tariffs (sorry for the formatting). Given that the wholesale price of electricity is about 5p/kWh and I pay about 15p/kWh for electricity, no wonder the scam artists are falling over themselves to find landowners willing to host wind turbines or solar panels. In addition to these rates, which the owner is paid for the electricity he uses, he gets another 3p for each kWh he exports to the grid. The rates drop slightly for bigger generators, but the returns are still enormous and unsustainable for electricity consumers and especially the poorest in society. Truly it is a policy invented by lunatics.

Technology Scale Tariff level (p/kWh) Tarifflifetime (years)
Solar electricity (PV) ≤4 kW (retro fit) 41.3 25
Solar electricity (PV) ≤4 kW (new build) 36.1 25
Wind ≤1.5 kW 34.5 20
Wind >1.5 - 15 kW 26.7 20
Micro CHP ≤2kW 10.0 10
Hydroelectricity ≤15 kW 19.9 20

Oct 29, 2010 at 7:17 PM | Unregistered CommenterPhillip Bratby

Which all ties in with a massive sale of UK forests planned by Defra.

Oct 29, 2010 at 7:21 PM | Unregistered CommenterTinyCO2

A spokesman for the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) said: "Support through the Renewables Obligation for electricity from wood is based on the costs of generation."

This is a fine example of the kind of nonsense you get from DECC. I think he means it is more expensive to generate electricity from wood so we have to subsidise it more. Thus, the more expensive it is to generate electricity, the higher the subsidy has to be. I repeat, what lunatics dream up these schemes to generate electricity by the most expensive means they can think of?

Oct 29, 2010 at 7:25 PM | Unregistered CommenterPhillip Bratby

"what lunatics dream up these schemes to generate electricity by the most expensive means they can think of?"

Ones who still expect you to keep the economy going by buying stuff. Stuff that doesn't require electricity for manufacture, transport or operation. It must be easier to teach Baldrick to count than to hammer some logic into these people.

Oct 29, 2010 at 7:39 PM | Unregistered CommenterTinyCO2

"what lunatics dream up these schemes to generate electricity by the most expensive means they can think of?"

Are you trying to say that we can't power the entire country by just burning trees. If we burn all our food do you think we can get close to enough power??

Oct 29, 2010 at 7:54 PM | Unregistered CommenterRob B

I thought Huhne was against subsidies. Or is that only for nuclear..?

Oct 29, 2010 at 7:55 PM | Unregistered CommenterJames P

James P. The Feed-in Tariff Scheme and the Renewable Obligation Scheme are not officially subsidies. They are a levy put on electricity bills, which the average consumer is not aware of because they are not itemised in the bills, and their existence is not publicised by our marvellous open government. Similarly, the Climate Change Levy Exemption (only applicable to renewable energy, not nuclear) is not officially a subsidy.

Oct 29, 2010 at 8:00 PM | Unregistered CommenterPhillip Bratby

Rob B: If you want to see how much (a pitiful amount) of our energy can come from renewable sources of all kinds, read Prof David MacKay's (DECC energy advisor) book "Sustainable Energy: without the hot air". It can be downloaded at

Oct 29, 2010 at 8:05 PM | Unregistered CommenterPhillip Bratby

Philip Bratby asks: 'I repeat, what lunatics dream up these schemes to generate electricity by the most expensive means they can think of?'

This is the result of letting the greens get hold of the levers of power.

When the dogma says 'Reduce CO2 and tackle climate change' and nobody bothers to check the numbers, monsters are born.

Or perhaps one monster - but it's Hydra.

The ideologues must answer the following questions:

1. Will China and the rest of the industrialising world stop emitting ever-more CO2 just because we want them to?

2. How can fractional reductions such as can realistically be achieved in the UK 'tackle climate change' (even if you ignore the Chinese elephant)?

3. If (1) and (2) are not dealt with convincingly, what is the point of inefficient, unreliable, marginal and harrowingly expensive renewables?

4. Is screwing the poor (and everybody else) to fund a bad idea that cannot achieve its primary stated goal morally justifiable?

5. If CO2 is the real enemy, why not take the logical route of more nuclear and electrified transport for quick reductions in the UK? Even if they are as influential as mouse-f*rts on a global scale?

It's worth bearing in mind that these questions are a lot harder to brush off with talk of 'settled science' and consensus that direct argument about climate sensitivity to C02.

In fact on this topic, the green position is demonstrably illogical.

Let's keep on insisting on coherent and substantive answers from those that espouse it.

Oct 29, 2010 at 8:08 PM | Unregistered CommenterBBD

The same thing happened with straw a few years ago: the price of straw for animal bedding tripled because it was being used as biofuel.

Oct 29, 2010 at 8:16 PM | Unregistered CommenterTurning Tide

Thanks for that link Phillip, looks very interesting an thorough.

I'm never quite sure about wind energy as the common 2 viewpoints are so extremely different to each other. If we can't do wind in any even vaguely realistic way then I can't see anyone else being able to do wind power. It seems that we just need all energy sources now to replace our diminishing gas - so nuclear ( I can still see some legitimate concerns about it, but no realistic alternative), coal and wind + (Severn barrage and other tide/wave projects).

Having come from a Geophysics background and narrowly avoiding the oil industry before postgrad in Meteorology, I still don't quite understand the hostility against the oil companies. Everyone knows there just as big and evil as any other large corporation (and probably more so) but they are also the industry that transformed all our lives with the oil powered 20th century. Surely they deserve at least a little bit of credit for the really hard, arduous and dangerous job they have been doing for the last century.

If there is at least some market for wind energy (It is sustainable) then we should at least make the windmills we are putting up. Also in the lower oil future (I am a Peak Oiler) surely rebuilding our ship (and therefore steel) industry would be a sensible move too.

Oct 29, 2010 at 8:20 PM | Unregistered CommenterRob B

BBD: If CO2 is the real enemy, why not take the logical route of more nuclear and electrified transport for quick reductions in the UK?

Under EU lunacy rules, nuclear is not renewable and so will not help us meet the unachievable 20% EU target that Tony Blair signed up to before going elsewhere to make his millions and leave us to pick up the tab for his stupidity or gullibility.

Oct 29, 2010 at 8:27 PM | Unregistered CommenterPhillip Bratby

Rob B - agreed that demonisation of oil companies is emotive and fundamentally silly.

Also agreed that if we do wind, we should build the kit here. But we don't - it all comes from elsewhere and is run remotely and maintained by the supplier itself. So not many 'green jobs' there.

The worst thing about wind to the CO2-focussed is or should be that it doesn't reduce emissions.

Wind is unreliable so it cannot be used for load-following generation or the lights keep going out.

So it needs to be mirrored with conventional (ie gas- or coal-fired) capacity. Which has to be fired up and running or it cannot step in instantly when the wind drops.

So more wind farms = more conventional = more CO2...

Yet one never hears much about this. The typical 'response' that 'the wind is always blowing somewhere' is so boot-chewingly stupid in this context it's hard to know where to start. So I won't, not here.

Oct 29, 2010 at 8:35 PM | Unregistered CommenterBBD

Philip - Oh, I know about the EU lunacy rules.

And I wish Tony all the best in his new career.

I mean, it would be churlish not to, wouldn't it?

Oct 29, 2010 at 8:38 PM | Unregistered CommenterBBD

Rob B at 8:20 PM

Whilst the "fuel" for wind generators is free, its energy density is very low and its supply is variable and intermittent.

Building a wind farm off-shore costs about the same as building a nuclear power station on a per GW installed basis. Running it to provide power, however, is akin to providing it with only enough fuel for two full power-days days a week and not telling the operators until a few days in advance when the fuel will be available. Large back-up generators are thus needed for days of no wind, to say nothing of the grid control problems inherent in relying on such an uncertain power source.
The solution is clear: build the "back-up" generators, run them continously, and save us all a fortune into the bargain by forgetting to build the windmills.

Oct 29, 2010 at 8:49 PM | Unregistered CommenterRonaldo

"Whilst the "fuel" for wind generators is free, its energy density is very low and its supply is variable and intermittent."

But as our own Oil and gas is in sharp decline, wind in front of on demand gas power stations does sound a reasonable proposal to cut down our gas imports at least a bit. I really don't understand people pushing solar power in the UK though (apart from natural water heating). Let us at least see what we can do with that in North Africa/Spain/Portugal etc.. and see if we can get the cost done or a breakthrough on the technology.

Anyone have any opinion on the Severn barrage, it sounds reasonable in principle with a 10 metre tide and I'm not quite sure why it would cost 30+ billion to build.

Oct 29, 2010 at 9:06 PM | Unregistered CommenterRob B

Ronaldo, The Danish data suggest 2 days per week is optimistic. The actual utilization of capacity on an annual basis in 2009 was around 22% or 1.5 days per week. The numbers can be calcualted from

Oct 29, 2010 at 9:11 PM | Unregistered CommenterBernie

Rob B

The problem is opportunity cost. The vast sums required to build big offshore wind installations are arguably better spent on developing nuclear.

You end up with more reliable load-following capacity, and less CO2 (remember what I say above about mirroring). You are right about the need to reduce gas imports (energy security). A hard look at the numbers means nuclear is the only practical option.

But here we are, in the depths of recession, solemnly throwing the money at Phase 3 offshore.

To a murmured incantation that it's 'tackling climate change'.

But it isn't and it won't. And questions need to be asked.

Oct 29, 2010 at 9:26 PM | Unregistered CommenterBBD


I definitely agree that nuclear is the number one priority by far and at least we are alluding to getting there, though I guess we are looking at 10 years away which seems way too late

Oct 29, 2010 at 9:29 PM | Unregistered CommenterRob B

"intended" or "unintended" consequences:

29 Oct: Financial Times: Pelita Clark: Air tax rise sparks fears over loss of traffic to rivals
At least one international airline has snubbed the UK in favour of France as a direct result of a 55 per cent rise in air passenger taxes, and more may follow, claim airport executives...
Manchester airport said this week, however, that after months of discussion with Malaysia’s AirAsia X, the low-cost, long-haul airline had decided to go to France’s Orly airport, south of Paris, in part because of the air passenger duty.
“They’ve said they are not confident that they are going to be able to have a viable route with APD at £85 for economy class and £170 for first and business,” said Jonathan Bailey, the airport’s group external affairs director, this week...
UK airlines and airports want the government to repeal APD once airlines are brought into the region’s emissions trading scheme in 2012.
But Philip Hammond, the transport secretary, says this is unlikely to happen for both environmental and financial reasons.
“We have two agendas that we’ve been perfectly frank about,” he told the FT this week. “One of them is using taxation to drive behaviour change; the other is using taxation to drive down the deficit. And aviation cannot be exempt from sharing and dealing with that problem any more than any other.”
*How much does the UK tax raise?
The Treasury estimates it will get £2.3bn in APD receipts in 2010-11, but by 2015-16 it forecasts receipts will increase to £3.8bn a year.

29 Oct: Telegraph: Oliver Smith: APD: Travel tax 'favours' US over Caribbean
Protests in the Caribbean over the Government's "iniquitous" travel tax system, ahead of rises in Air Passenger Duty.
It has emerged, however, that the banding system has been applied less rigidly to Russia. Russian territories to the west of the Ural Mountains are in Band A, meaning that, from Monday, travellers to Moscow will pay just £12 in APD. Travellers flying to territories to the east of the Urals – which are in Band B – must pay £60.
Since the last increases in November 2009, and the introduction of the banding system, the number of British visitors to the Caribbean has fallen by 12 per cent, and to some islands by a quarter., the flight-comparison website, this week reported a 23 per cent fall in searches for flights to Barbados between January and October, compared with the same period last year. ..
Hugh Riley, secretary-general of the CTO, said: "The fact that all Caribbean-bound passengers will be paying not only 87.5 per cent more APD than they were last year but also more than those flying as far as Los Angeles is incongruous. We cannot understand why banding adaptations have been possible in some instances, but not for the Caribbean. And why is the overseas US state of Hawaii in the same band as the US mainland, while French overseas departments in the Caribbean have not been banded with France?"
A spokesman for the Treasury denied that it was favouring the US. ...
(Philip Hammond. Transport Secretary) "This Government understands the social and economic benefits of aviation," he said. "We want to work with the industry to address the challenges of climate change so that aviation can play its part in securing sustainable future economic growth."
*****Despite the reference to climate change, the Treasury admitted that none of the money recouped from APD is directly channelled into environmental causes...

29 Oct: Daily Mail:Sean Poulter: The sky-high flight tax: Families face rises of up to 55% in levy on holidays from UK airports
APD was initially introduced as a ‘green tax’ on the basis it would discourage people from flying and cut carbon emissions.
However, it has become a cash cow for the last government and the Coalition, with annual revenue set to rise from £2.3billion to £3.8billion by 2015. ..
There are four distance bands used to set APD – up to 2,000 miles; 2,001-4000; 4,001-6,000; and more than 6,000. However, there are anomalies, which appear to discriminate against destinations like the Caribbean and Egypt.
The economy flight APD to the Caribbean is £75 per person, more than the £60 to the U.S. and Hawaii. Similarly, the figure for Egypt is £60, compared with £12 for Turkey.
APD applies equally to child tickets, while the higher rates come into effect for anyone in premium economy, business or first class...
Gareth Williams, of flight comparison website Skyscanner, said: ‘Those determined to fly long-haul will consider indirect flights via Europe to save money.’
To get to OZ now it will have to a short flight to Schipol (Amsterdam) and to hell with the British airlines and airports..
The easy way round this tax is, for families to take a ferry to France and then fly from France to their destinations,this would have a three fold effect, firstly a down turn in flights made from Britain,a rise in profits for French aviation and thirdly a message to the government that we have had enough of their stealth taxes!!...
We have flown BA Heathrow to Nairobi for the last twenty years. Next year it will be KLM from Bristol to Amsterdam and then KLM to Nairobi. ..
Fly to Amsterdam and then on to your chosen destination= £less tax, better airlines, better airport...

Oct 29, 2010 at 9:41 PM | Unregistered Commenterpat

I have just had a sales presentation on a French heating system called aerothermie which (in simple terms which is all I understand of these matters) appears to work like a refrigerator in reverse and will be guaranteed to cut ... etc.,etc. The principle is supposedly similar to geothermal heating.
My initial reaction was sceptical but I've since discovered that a recently built medical centre in Burgundy has it installed and it seems to work.
It's best installed in new-build because the relatively low heat generated is most efficient in an underfloor system.
It seems to me that this sort of innovation (assuming it does what it says on the tin) is another string to the energy efficiency and conservation bow, which presumably we agree is a good thing, but since it will require a regular, albeit reduced, level of normally generated power it won't count.
In fact as far as I can tell nothing counts with the eco-loons that actually works and provides the heat amd light that keeps us alive and fit and healthy.

Oct 29, 2010 at 9:43 PM | Unregistered CommenterSam the Skeptic

"what lunatics dream up these schemes to generate electricity by the most expensive means they can think of?"

In Canada, studies have determined that burning wood chips to generate electricity is uneconomic. However, it is economic, apparently, to burn substantial amounts of high-sulfur bunker fuel to ship millions of tons of wood chips from British Columbia to Europe, including presumably the UK, as fuel for electrical generating plants.

Isn't environmental economics wonderful -- for us in British Columbia, anyhow.

But why, if the objective is to cut carbon emissions, does the United Kingdom not introduced a carbon tax, as we have done, most intelligently, here in British Columbia? That way, the decision whether to go nuclear, biomass, wind, or solar (in Britain? LOL) would cease to be a public policy issue and subsidies would be unnecessary: the market would decide.

Indeed, the market might decide that no additional plant was necessary since conservation might be more economic.

Oct 29, 2010 at 9:46 PM | Unregistered CommenterAlfred

Sam the Skeptic: You're talking about heat pumps (ground, air and water). A very good idea in the right circumstances as the "efficiency" can be >700%. But as you say, ideal for new build with underfloor heating since the temperatures aren't very high. I've looked into installing one as I have the land and water to put in either a ground-source or water-source. But even with a big subsidy it is not worth the cost of ripping out my existing system. There is no magic bullet.

Oct 29, 2010 at 9:59 PM | Unregistered CommenterPhillip Bratby

Slightly o/t but interesting for background information,I found the BBC programme on the National Grid quite fascinating;

That is part one and works its way from early power generation to today. I would be surprised if we don't get something on wind/solar in the next episode & it will be interesting to hear how it is handled both technically and (BBC) politically.

Oct 29, 2010 at 10:04 PM | Unregistered Commentersimpleseekeraftertruth

Re "aerothermie" (Sam the Skeptic 9:43 PM)

This is what we call a "luftvärmepump" (air heat poump) in Sweden. It is used extensively here and it does work. The main drawback is that the efficiency declines at low temperatures and that supplementary heating is needed. The temperature where this is needed depends on how well isolated the building is, but it seems that it mostly happens somewhere between zero and minus ten centigrade.
En "jordvärmepump" (ground heat pump) is more efficient and is even more common in Sweden. This extracts heat from groundwater rather than air. This is much more efficient since water has a much higher heat capacity and stays at the mean annual temperature all year round. I have one myself, and it is capable of heating the house all by itself down to about -18 degrees centigrade. Below that supplementary heating is needed.
The drawback with the groundwater system is that it is more expensive (typically on the order of 10,000 pounds).and requires an existing hot water system in the house.
The air system is cheaper and easier to adapt to buildings without an existing heating system. If the house is large and does not have good ventilation it is possible to use multiple units,rather like separate Air Conditioning units.
Incidentally both types can be built to run either as heaters or coolers, at the cost of some extra complexity. This is not common in Sweden, where excessive heat is typically a problem for one or two weeks in summer (if we're lucky).

Oct 29, 2010 at 10:17 PM | Unregistered Commentertty

Re Philip Bratby

I repeat, what lunatics dream up these schemes to generate electricity by the most expensive means they can think of?

Lobbyists usually, so the people regularly visting Huhne. Global NGO's like the WWF are protecting their investment in their Amazon REDD scheme. They seem to have borrowed money (or been given it) in advance of it's offset potential, and sales potential selling 'sustainable' woodchips. One oddity I found recently looking for data on LNG carriers was the number of dedicated woodchip carriers that are being built, not to mention already in service.

There's a lot of money in wood at the moment, if you have the right kind of wood and the right political environment. Australia's busily nationalising other people's assets in the name of CO2 sequestration and offset potential, the UK is being rather more blatant in privatising potential profits by proposing to sell off our national forests. Some media's reporting it as expanding leisure potential, but ignoring the offset potential, and supply of 'sustainable' timber for biofuels. We privatise the profits and add the costs to industry and consumers.

There was a mention of quick fix options like electrifying the railways. Nice idea, but would need electricity. Trains delayed/cancelled due to lack of wind. Plus who pays. Infrastructure is semi-nationalised again, profits are distributed to the TOC's who'd need to spend money on new stock rather than sweating existing assets for maximum profits and running them into the ground. Investing in new rolling stock that could run on electricity would 'need' more subsidies, which would increase ticket costs even more than they have been. Ministers would wail and gnash teeeth about why people aren't using public transport, but the answer is staring them in the face. It's too f'ng expensive because the TOC's milk the public for as much as they can. But we privatised it in the interests of 'competition', which should have lowered costs because it'd be more efficient, and competitive.

Same thing happened with privatising power. We've been sweating those assets and not reinvesting because there's been no incentive to do this, despite energy costs being one of the main factors driving our inflation.. But thanks to Brown and Blair's economic genius, that's been secondary to hiding off-balance sheet debt and enriching themselves.

So we're in a deep hole, and our government is still digging. Personally I think the best thing to do is build a pre-Industrial theme park and hope to capitalise on some tourism money. Pretty much everything else is going to be uncompetitive or taxed/regulated into oblivion.

Oct 29, 2010 at 10:39 PM | Unregistered CommenterAtomic Hairdryer

Just as I was calming down after your previous post you have seriously upset the rest of my Friday evening and probably most of Saturday.
Should we organise a march or rally through the streets of London, demanding an open debate of the science?
That should do the trick; well it worked for the Iraq war and fox hunting,didn't it.

Oct 29, 2010 at 10:42 PM | Unregistered CommenterG.Watkins

It would seem that stupidity is being applied to a non-problem. Is there a precedent for this anywhere other than human sacrifice?

Oct 29, 2010 at 10:44 PM | Unregistered Commentersimpleseekeraftertruth


Basically all superstitions are the application of stupidity to a non problem or an unsolvable problem, human sacrifice is an extreme example. Ringing church bells to ward off thunder storms in medieval times is another.

Oct 29, 2010 at 11:08 PM | Unregistered Commentercosmic

A pound of Anthracite coal yields 13000 BTU/pound and wood pellets yield about 8500 BTU/pound. However, burning green activists as fuel is about half as efficient as wood and 30% as efficient as coal.
But hey, Greens are renewable compared to coal and quick to grow compared to trees.

Oct 29, 2010 at 11:52 PM | Unregistered CommenterAnoneumouse

And the last time we sent people up the chimney - nah. Funny, but not funny really.

Just stop the nonsense with good, solid arguments.

Oct 30, 2010 at 12:14 AM | Unregistered CommenterBBD

Well this was all foreseen years ago. There will not be enough timber in Europe to keep up with this. Not only will it massively increase the price of wood for other uses but it will deplete our forests and produce an abundance of black carbon, not to mention resins and xylene etc. In 20 years we will have reaped the whirlwind of all this. As the Mackinder Programme Study revealed:

" …setting huge targets for renewable energy in a short time frame (from 8.5% to 20% by 2020) may unintentionally drive the whole of Europe into large-scale wood burning…There will be a huge demand-supply gap. There will be different sorts of hazard also. Decentralized wood burning may increase the already considerable number of deaths caused by fine-particle emissions in Europe. Furthermore, it will increase the atmospheric black carbon load, which is thought to have powerful climate forcing effect: the opposite result of what policy intends.

Likewise, the decision to increase the proportion of bio-fuels in transportation by 5.7% by 2010 and 10% by 2020 is a decision with undesired environmental consequences. Europe intends to fulfil this particular directive by the increased use of 1st generation bio-fuels, the production of which will, according to many academic studies, increase deforestation, world market prices of many basic foods, water consumption, erosion and land degradation, the use of fertilizers (e.g. highly emitting N2O) and pesticides, as well as decrease biodiversity. Recent analysis calculates that it would take 400 years to pay off the global ‘carbon debt’ caused by changes in land use induced by bio-fuel energy production."

Mike Hulme was one of the authors, and we see his characteristic hand in the following from the same report:

"…climate policy has come to serve many other political and social functions beyond its declared formal objective. Thus, undeclared political, religious, ethical and wider lifestyle and social purposes are being fulfilled…Because climate policy performs so many other sorts of political, religious and psychological work, it has tremendous momentum within it…current conventional wisdom [for reducing CO2]…is grounded upon policies that have not worked in the past and which we know never to have been politically feasible except through the application of unacceptable political forces."

So, there are policies that will not achieve their objectives (the presently declared ones that we are supposed to be suckers for) and then there are policies that will achieve their ends through use of totalitarian force.

Oct 30, 2010 at 12:26 AM | Unregistered CommenterScientistForTruth

"Ringing church bells to ward off thunder storms in medieval times is another."
If that was the scale of what is being proposed as a solution, I could live with that. What we are getting is much closer to human sacrifice. I think I can state with some confidence that fuel poverty will kill. That will be a direct result of manipulation of market forces to favour low density power generation.

Oct 30, 2010 at 12:28 AM | Unregistered Commentersimpleseekeraftertruth

I am in New England and I am looking at installing a geothermal system. We could use cooling for a couple of months. Can you provide some brand names for the heat pumps that are highly recommended in Sweden? Also I assume the control system is a key - any recommendations there?

Oct 30, 2010 at 1:07 AM | Unregistered CommenterBernie


Just about all the measures to combat climate change, have a very superficial appeal as regards lowering CO2 emissions. When you look at them, they probably increase emissions, by exporting the problem, or because the full consequences aren't thought through, or create new problems as with biofuels, Meanwhile there's an enormous cost in money and energy devoted to them. They may not work, but they are Green, even if they are not.

So yes, this mania, dogma, superstition (all these fit pretty well) is going to kill people. Set up inflexible bureaucracies to enforce it, and expect some real nonsense.

The wood based bioenergy scheme appears to be complete lunacy, but it's Green. Sustainable? It's to do with trees, so that makes it sustainable, and that's probably about as far as the thinking goes.

Oct 30, 2010 at 1:22 AM | Unregistered Commentercosmic


I have no personal experience, so I won't make recommendations, but just a brief note: ground source heat pumps aren't geothermal, they're solar. The heat isn't coming up from inside the earth, but from the sun - it's just stored in the earth.

If you ever watch the TV programme Grand Designs, there are quite a few houses which have had ground-source heating installed. Check their website for information, links and details of suppliers. You'll need to go through it by episode to find all the times it was used, but here's one:

Oct 30, 2010 at 1:50 AM | Unregistered Commenterdave

I think the Bishop said it all with his parsimonious Quite, quite mad.

Now, back to my Mandarin 您好,欢迎英国

Oct 30, 2010 at 3:13 AM | Unregistered CommenterDon Pablo de la Sierra

I've just listened to the weekly review of the Farming Today programme on Radio 4. It was about renewable energy on farms. It started with the usual FoE statement that we have enough renewable energy to power the country several times over. Of course the presenters were women full of "WOW". We are now growing highly subsidised miscanthus (grass) to burn in power stations and maize to produce bio-gas, instead of growing food. At least one of the farmers interviewed was a realist and said that wind power is unreliable and that when the wind doesn't blow, you get no power. And on solar farms, well without subsidies, totally unviable - "it's more profitable than farming".

There's no doubt that the renewable policy will lead to poor people dying early because of high food prices and high energy prices. I don't suppose such people will care because they have been told that their sacrifice will save the planet.

Oct 30, 2010 at 7:22 AM | Unregistered CommenterPhillip Bratby

@sam the sceptic

'In fact as far as I can tell nothing counts with the eco-loons that actually works and provides the heat amd light that keeps us alive and fit and healthy'

I fear that the ecoloons are suffering from a bad attack of religious mania in a Doomsday cult. Many of the characteristics are there and very similar to those of the past

Belief in a greater power that they don't understand - Then God, now 'AGW theory'.

Belief that there once was a paradise on Earth. Then Garden of Eden, now before we started burning things.

Paradise was ruined only by Man's sin (Eating apples, releasing CO2),

Belief that the end of the world is nigh (Book of Revelations, Climate-induced catastrophes)

Intolerance of heretics (Burning at the stake, excommunication : Real Climate, Joe Romm etc)

Hatred of apostates (see treatment of Judith Curry recently)

Belief that pointless sacrifice is the only way forward (Jesus Crucifixion, Sam's comment that nothing really counts with eco loons if its useful)

Absolute literal belief in the sacred sayings of the High Priests (papal infallibility, climate modelling)

and so the similarities continue.

The good news is that when Doomsday does not occur, the cult dies away. There are very few believers left that the World will end on 1st January 2000 (or even 2001) and those who loudly proclaimed so have been silenced.

As time goes by the AGW cult, too, will die. Unlike the earlier ones, it has become embedded into our politics and media, but even they will eventually see the scam for what it is. Within the last year, we have seen a tremendous retreat in their power and influence as Climategate shone a very unwelcome and revealing light on their 'work'.

Keep the Faith (or rather lack of it!!) and we shall this day light a candle...etc one of my namesakes once said under very trying circumstances.

Oct 30, 2010 at 7:42 AM | Unregistered CommenterLatimer Alder

In Hungary, the price of wood has more than doubled in the last few years because of these policies.

Bear in mind that in Hungary wood burning is a normal way of heating. So the effects were even greater. The people most affected are the pensioners.

And one of the results? The Gypsies illegally cut down any large hard wood tree they can find, put the wood on the back of a truck and sell it from door to door. There are little copses that exist everywhere by road sides that are now bare of trees.

Oct 30, 2010 at 7:54 AM | Unregistered CommenterJiminy Cricket

OK Kronospan complain.

But I notice that they proudly display a copy of some certificate and declare they are: "Carbon Positive".

If these companies want to play along with this political game for gain (I presume being "carbon positive" would allow a nice subsidised revenue stream when carbon permits are tradable) they can't whinge and moan when this stupidity comes around and bite them.

I have little sympathy for this company. A blight on them as well as Huhne as his watermelon idiots.

Oct 30, 2010 at 8:23 AM | Unregistered CommenterGeckko

Prophet motive - The reason most green businesses exist.

Oct 30, 2010 at 8:47 AM | Unregistered Commentersimpleseekeraftertruth

This is the consequence of failing to think logically from end to means. It may be desirable or essential for us to stop burning or burn greatly less fossil fuel. One can see that, regardless of the effect of CO2 on global warming, this is a reasonable point of view.

The problem is that windmills are not a way of avoiding doing that, neither are biofuels, neither is solar power. There is only one way, and that is to stop doing it. So we would have to go back to organic agriculture (avoid the huge amounts of oil that go into fertilizer and pesticides and their manufacture and distribution). We'd have to abolish the auto industry, and with it the shopping centre and suburbs and markedly reduce private car use.

The problem the green lobby has, it cannot advocate doing that because it would be political death, so it advocates doing stuff which has almost no effect, or a counter productive effect, on the problem it is supposed to be addressing.

It is about announcing your goal, and then announcing means which do actually lead to it. Anything else is stupidity.

Oct 30, 2010 at 9:01 AM | Unregistered Commentermichel

Is anyone on here confident ANY nuclear will be built in the UK whilst the present pantomime horse team "government" is in power and BuffHuhne has his hand on the energy tiller? It was one of the most obvious failures of Blair & Brown's Labour that they repeatedly ducked the nuclear power issue whilst in power - not that the Tories or the Dims were complaining about that. Huhne is 100% anti nuclear. An announcement about 8 new plants is certainly no guarantee of support and certainly no guarantee that any application (by 100% private finance) would receive planning permission - just made much harder by ConDem changes to the process.

When the Greens started to gather strength at the end of the 1980s (and the collapse of Soviet Communism certainly had something to do with that), the reaction of all three "main" political parties was the usual one. Try to steal the new party's clothes. Well, that was successful, (but a bit like wrestling with a tar baby). All three parties now have nice greenie policies. Not green enough for the Green party diehards, but still absolutely ludicrous. Witness the 2008 Climate Change Act that will cost us (even on DECC's figures) £18.4 Billion per year for 40 years and which will result in NO significant reduction in Global CO2 emissions, let alone achieve any change whatever in the Climate.

Readers will be aware of the site where you can download "Generation by Fuel Type" data from a three month rolling spreadsheet.
I've been doing that for some time, the better to make bullets to fire at the BigWind balloon. But I've managed (too much wine) to overwrite the data for June & July, now no longer on the site. Does anyone have the data or know where I can find it?

Oct 30, 2010 at 9:17 AM | Unregistered CommenterMartin Brumby

@Martin Brumby

I don't have the URL at hand, but they provide 30-minute and 5-minute interval data back to Nov 2008, in quarterly intervals. It's in text files which have to be "munged". I've done munging and put all the data into a database (2.5 million records). I'm working with that data to fit probability distributions to the data. My idea and plan is to make the bold assumption (will hone this assumption in time, of course) that the distribution of wind power obtained will be roughly the same into the future as the wind/weather will probably be about the same and the need for mechanical downtime will be roughly the same--same meaning as seen in the data since Nov 2008. With this assumption, then draw down other power sources and increase the % of wind (and other renewables) in the mix and see how much total capacity required to achieve the same "average" output and distribution. Amongst other things, I'm trying to look at how much capacity really required to achieve Scotland's 80% renewable target (by 2020). All works in progress ...

I can send you the June and July data in a spreadsheet file if you want. rmschne (put in the little symbol at the appropriate place).

Oct 30, 2010 at 10:04 AM | Unregistered CommenterRob Schneider

It's not just Kronospan at Chirk. Egger in Hexham, Northumberland is talking about losing some 1500 jobs in a town of about 15000 people, and the biggest employer in the valley. That would make the local economy implode and have repercussions throghout the town.

These guys need locking up.

Oct 30, 2010 at 10:52 AM | Unregistered CommenterCumbrian Lad

Thanks, Martin Brumby, for the link ( )

You have to scroll down almost to the end to see the very interesting "Generation by Fuel Type" table and graph. They show that roughly 95% of the UK's electricity is being generated at the moment from gas, coal, and nuclear. Wind accounts for 2.6%, and oil 0% (?). There's no separate entry for Solar, so presumably this is included in "Other", at 0%

After googling around a bit I found out the meanings of the acronyms used:

CCGT: Closed Cycle Gas Turbine
OCGT: Open Cycle Gas Turbine

PS: Pumped Storage
NPSHYD: Non Pumped Storage Hydro

INTFR: Electricity from France
INTRL: Electricity from Ireland

Oct 30, 2010 at 10:53 AM | Unregistered CommenterPaul Boyce

Re Aerothermie

One problem is that on cold nights the heat exchanger ices up and becomes hopelessly inefficient. Some models solve this by going into reverse i.e. cooling the house to melt the ice.

Oct 30, 2010 at 11:11 AM | Unregistered CommenterDreadnought

What we are doing is the exact reverse of the very sensible proposals that Pielke Jr has made. Pielke suggests that we should raise a modest tax on fossil fuels, and use the results to fund research and development of low carbon (which means low fossil fuel) energy. This would have a chance of success.

However, what we are now doing is raise large amounts of tax revenue, disguised through the feedin tariff subsidy, and we spend the money it raises on installing ever more inefficient methods of power generation, such as wind turbines.

The result is to raise more money than we need for R&D, and then to waste it, because it is not going into R&D but into installing methods of power generation which have been proven not be an effective solution. This is not going to get us anywhere.

Oct 30, 2010 at 1:25 PM | Unregistered Commentermichel

PostPost a New Comment

Enter your information below to add a new comment.

My response is on my own website »
Author Email (optional):
Author URL (optional):
Some HTML allowed: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <code> <em> <i> <strike> <strong>