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« Lying to Parliament | Main | More entrepreneurs »
Wednesday
May232012

The despair of energy policy

Simon Jenkins despairs of UK energy policy:

[T]he government wants to commit a staggering £100bn to wind farm subsidies over the next decade, almost all to rich landowners. Northamptonshire, with England's most planned wind farms per acre (and least wind), will probably have turbines visible from horizon to horizon. Will this really so impress China and India as to persuade them to change their emissions policies? It is like a primitive tribe burning its wives and treasure to awe an enemy into submission.

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Reader Comments (42)

The only "policy" this wretched grvernment seems to have is to increase the price of all energy, which will increase the price of everything, hit all profits, and make us all poorer.

May 23, 2012 at 8:09 AM | Unregistered CommenterHuhneToTheSlammer

Name the landowners ...

May 23, 2012 at 8:10 AM | Unregistered Commenterconfused

Dear, lovely old Guardian. Somewhere within the rotting corpse a (bleeding) heart yet beats

Yet the government wants to commit a staggering £100bn to wind farm subsidies over the next decade, almost all to rich landowners... Will this really so impress China and India as to persuade them to change their emissions policies? It is like a primitive tribe burning its wives and treasure to awe an enemy into submission.

May 23, 2012 at 8:15 AM | Unregistered Commentergeoffchambers

An essential read on what this new policy is about:-

http://www.eureferendum.com/blogview.aspx?blogno=82699

and don't forget to read the linked piece from the Oxford Institute for Energy Studies.

I particularly like:-

"Perhaps the greatest uncertainty is about the costs and benefits of the whole exercise. The Government’s assurances that the overall costs will be bearable and lower than on alternative approaches have been increasingly challenged as fuel poverty increases, and the various elements of its case have been questioned (eg on the cost of nuclear, or the assumption that energy efficiency measures will offset the effect of higher electricity prices). It is a little unsettling in this context to read the government’s impact assessment for the capacity mechanism it is introducing. It is forced to admit that either version of the capacity mechanism (strategic reserve or capacity market) would have a significant negative net present value and that its own favoured approach (the capacity market) is worse, rather than better. To explain its decision, it effectively dismisses the cost calculations — the assessment says “we do not believe the net costs in [the assessment] are representative of the likely impact of implementing either a Capacity Market or a Strategic Reserve”: the government appears to regard the costs as simply a result of the modelling approach. But the same could be said both of the wider cost calculations which underlie the government’s optimistic view of the impact on consumers and prices, and the market modelling which suggests that the renewables target is achievable. Both outcomes are essentially a function of the modelling approach — it is just that, in these instances. the government is using its own models and getting results which support its case."

Has a familiar ring to it.......

May 23, 2012 at 8:24 AM | Unregistered CommenterMartin Brumby

From a purely financial point of view wouldn't it be cheaper to have another World War instead? I am not suggesting we actually start one - after all the fires in wars emit a lot of CO2 and we wouldn't want that would we?

May 23, 2012 at 8:34 AM | Unregistered CommenterRoy

I can see a time when direct action against wind turbines will be a common occurrence, when sabotage of all kinds will take place by impoverished people. There will not be enough jail space and the politicians will still wonder what they did wrong.

May 23, 2012 at 8:41 AM | Unregistered CommenterPeter Whale

The way to look at this is that it is a sign of the times. The Guardian is actually publishing something like this. This is a sea change. The really interesting part of the article however is the part you did not quote:

"Britain's contribution to cooling can only be so infinitesimal as to be little more than gesture politics, yet it is a gesture that is massively expensive. Meeting the current EU renewables directive, largely from wind, would cost some £15bn a year, or £670 a household, and involve the spoliation of swaths of upland, countryside and coast. It is calculated to save a mere 0.2% of global emissions, with negligible impact on the Earth's sea level."

When this sort of thing starts appearing in the Guardian, its the beginning of the end. The whole agenda has been based on gesture politics, that is doing things that are totally ineffective if the theory is correct. So when the Guardian starts publishing material that reflects on the real factual implications, and lists them as starkly as this, its basically over.

The whole agenda is unravelling simply because you cannot get there from here. Even could you build turbines at the rate needed, they would not generate the levels of power required, and even if they did it would be ridiculously expensive, and even then, if the theory is correct, it would make no difference whatever to global warming. This always was true. Just as it always was true that no amount of subsidy would ever replace all our internal combustion engined cars with electric ones.

But when the Guardian starts to say it, it means that the public agenda is about to change. Its over.

May 23, 2012 at 8:41 AM | Unregistered Commentermichel

My leftist comrades who brought about that state of affairs ought to be ashamed. A hundred billion pounds worth of money that could have been spent on social programs (education, health, housing, etc) will now go to wind-energy charlatans promising 'free' energy and rich landowners who are in cahoots with those charlatans.

Love it or hate it (and I certainly do hate it), Australia's Carbon Tax is probably the best policy among all the awful energy policies that was born out of the last two decades of climate craze. Although in both the UK and Australia electricity prices have sky-rocketed, in Australia the wealth is transferred from the rich to the poor rather than from the poor to the rich as it clearly is the case in the UK.

What a travesty of social justice that the rich land-owners who play host to those windmills get richer while the poor shiver more because of the fuel poverty!

According to another article in the Guardian (yes, in the Guardian!), the climate activist community are reverting to traditional causes such as anti-GM food, now that they have fracked up the energy prices for the poor. And those who yelled out for years that climate skeptics are 'anti-science', are now claiming scientists are completely wrong about GM food:

Walker also admits that the group contains "some of the same faces" that were part of the Climate Camp, a nationwide, non-hierarchical collective of environmentalists that has organised a series of high-profile protest camps in recent years, but which appears to be now focusing on "fracking", the controversial method of extracting natural gas from shale, as well as partially dissolving into groups such as Occupy and UK Uncut.

Beyond this, Walker refuses to say who the protesters are or how many they number: "We don't have a leadership structure. There's no fixed office and we take it in turns to man the phone." She says the protesters are "keeping an open mind" about how far they are prepared to take things on the day of the protest, but insists they have a mandate to express their objections. "The scientists and their supporters are in a massive minority. Concerns about the science of GM, and its corporate ownership, are both key, intertwined reasons for opposing it. The public mood on this is clear."
http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2012/may/22/gm-crops-protesters-battlefields

Well done, comrades, but why the concern about GM foods if we're all going to be swamped by seas, fried by heat and/or otherwise overwhelmed by climate wars by 2100?

May 23, 2012 at 8:48 AM | Unregistered CommentersHx

Potlatch. Very similar to the way British armies awed the Germans into submission at the Battle of the Somme.

May 23, 2012 at 8:58 AM | Unregistered Commenterjorgekafkazar

Strewth!
An article critical of wind farms in the Guardian? Whatever next!

It is becoming increasingly obvious that our "energy policy" is a problem that is not going to be fixed. I am old and can probably ride out the next decade but if I were a young man with a young family I should be casting around to try and make myself independent of our energy grid somehow.

Somewhere with a cheap supply of coal and a very fancy combination boiler and electricity generator perhaps.

Further... I grew up in houses without central heating so I know it can be done, but when more and more people are starting to not be able to fully heat their homes there are going to be riots. It is hard to move backwards and this is what is being asked of us.

One of the more depressing aspects of the debate is that even if we were to discover a radical new cheap form of exploitable energy.....huge vested interests would work against utilising it!

Excellent if depressing comment here: http://www.eureferendum.com/blogview.aspx?blogno=82699

May 23, 2012 at 9:02 AM | Unregistered CommenterJack Savage

I "project" a substantial increase in climate policy caused deaths if this nonsense is allowed to go ahead.
What happened to the "Protest and Survive" movement?

May 23, 2012 at 9:31 AM | Unregistered CommenterDon Keiller

I placed a very mild comment on the Guardian website where I agreed with the burden of the article but challenged whether Simon Jenkins was actually expressing his true feelings that the whole energy debate is really based on an "emperor's clothes" type falsehood. This was placed at 4 in their list of correspndents, not surprisingly it was removed by the moderator or should I say censor. The Guardian purports to stand up for free speech ( Comment is free ) yet in fact it is a rather repressive little organization which rejects reasoned thought under the name of liberalism. I hold two relevant degrees to back my opinions on this matter yet some media studies eco- fanatic decides otherwise.

May 23, 2012 at 10:51 AM | Unregistered CommenterTrefjon

I have the scary feeling that we have entered an era in which politicians know so little and rely so much on 'advisors' and civil servants, that we are effectively governed by nameless bureaucrats who are free to grind their own axes with minimal interference from politicians, who probably just feel pride that they are managing a 100 Bn project!

May 23, 2012 at 11:01 AM | Unregistered CommenterDavid Bailey

sHx said:

Love it or hate it (and I certainly do hate it), Australia's Carbon Tax is probably the best policy among all the awful energy policies that was born out of the last two decades of climate craze. Although in both the UK and Australia electricity prices have sky-rocketed, in Australia the wealth is transferred from the rich to the poor rather than from the poor to the rich as it clearly is the case in the UK.
---------------------------------------------------------------------
If only. The tax is will be hitting local councils with one big landfill instead of 2 small ones, councils that have just experienced natural disasters because of all the extra rubbish, universities, power suppliers etc. Only some people will get rebates (I won't, because I am not a 'working family' or living on government income) but everyone's cost of living is going to rise. It is just taxation churn, with millions being lost in the process. People who have just endured a cyclone or a flood will be rewarded by higher council rates because of the local tip being filled with dead animals and fallen trees.

Equity doesn't enter into it.

But, you are right to say that it is the least pernicious form of CO2 punishment. Unfortunately, the solar rebates, windmill subsidies and all the rest continue to run alongside of it.

Not that I'm bitter, or anything :)

May 23, 2012 at 11:12 AM | Unregistered Commenterjohanna

Trefjon,

Most lefties here, and there are a few of us, are refugees from the Guardian CiF. In the warped mind of CiF moderators (especially CiF Environment), there can not be any loyal Guardian reader who could possibly think the CAGW claims are bunkum and the new energy policies will hurt the poor more than the rich. No, sir, we are in the pay of the big oil; so our comments are deleted, airbrushed and if we continue to rebel, our accounts are cancelled.

My first ever comment on CiF Environment was during the climategate. It was a single sentence comment that went something like "the revelation that tipped me over the fence". My second comment in the same thread was deleted. So were the third and the fourth and the fifth and on the same thread. It was the first ever censorship that I suffered on the Guardian. The climategate was a revelation alright, but the censorship I suffered from the moment I went contrarian was even a greater revelation to me.

Simply speaking, I was beaten into submission by CiF moderators. I have stopped commenting on the CiF Environment almost completely, simply because I don't want to suffer the cancellation of my account, which amounts to a virtual death sentence, with the loss of access to all comments on all topics made on the CiF under my name.

The result is that in order to be able to read and comment on climate change issues without censorship, I have to come to places like BH or WUWT, the places that are teeming with right-wingers and many cranks, with whom I'd never expect to rub shoulders in ordinary circumstances. The lefties here are here, IMHO, because we have been expelled from our natural comfort zone, the Guardian, because of the paper's Environment editors, reporters and moderators.

May 23, 2012 at 11:35 AM | Registered CommentersHx

Jenkins has wandered way off the reservation - at this rate he will be talking sense in about 15 years' time.

May 23, 2012 at 11:41 AM | Unregistered CommenterJack Hughes

I would like to think that this was a sea change in Guardian policy but I'm afraid it's not. Jenkins has been a well-known columnist for years and has been against wind farms for some time, initially I think because of the eyesore factor but increasingly because of their expensive uselessness. Because of his status, and the fact that it's a personal column, he is able to get away with stuff which others wouldn't - even if they were minded to agree with him.
Be that as it may, the vast majority of Guardian coverage is CAGW and its Environment section constantly pumps out misinformation, leading on any pro-warmist study, however flimsy.
Only yesterday the Environment Editor had a piece of staggering foolishness blathering about free wind power - thankfully demolished in short order in the comments:
http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/damian-carrington-blog/2012/may/22/energy-nuclear-renewables

Sadly, I suspect that the Guardian will still be warmist when hypothermia victims who can't afford ever-increasing heating bills overflow the morgues.

May 23, 2012 at 12:04 PM | Unregistered Commenterartwest

Delingpole consistently calls them "Komment Macht Frei".

'Nuff said.

May 23, 2012 at 12:47 PM | Unregistered CommenterEvil Denier

An article critical of wind farms in the Guardian? Whatever next!

George Monbiot denouncing the international Leftist movement over at Komment Macht Frei.

May 23, 2012 at 12:49 PM | Unregistered CommenterRick Bradford

As I write, wind is providing 0.4% (160MW) of UK electricity demand (just under 40000MW).

Says it all, really - doesn't it..?

May 23, 2012 at 1:30 PM | Unregistered CommenterDavid

I have to come to places like BH or WUWT, the places that are teeming with right-wingers and many cranks, with whom I'd never expect to rub shoulders in ordinary circumstances. The lefties here are here, IMHO, because we have been expelled from our natural comfort zone, the Guardian, because of the paper's Environment editors, reporters and moderators.
May 23, 2012 at 11:35 AM sHx

Speaking as a right- wing crank, I'm more than happy to rub shoulders with you too.

I'm a bit puzzled though about how long it took you to figure out that CIF is rigged.

After reading it, without commenting, for a year or so, I gradually realised that a hard core of regulars on climate topics survived indefinitely, despite repetitive offensive, abusive and distracting behaviour, while newcomers with politely expressed contrary opinions usually disppeared after a few posts.

When I joined in myself, I managed to get through eight different user ID's in a couple of years - until I got sick of registering new email addresses. An amusing aspect of this censorship is that the "old lags" seem blissfully unaware of the echo chamber they operate in - and enjoy sneering at people with new ID's and accusing them of being "visiting Tory trolls".

If you ever fancy giving it another go here's a tip - moderators obviously don't always bother to read posts very carefully and always give the benefit of the doubt to usernames who sound sympathetic to "the cause". When I called myself "greenaraminta" with a pic of a wistful looking hippy lady with flowers in her hair - I got away with spouting blatant denierism and right wingery for nearly a year!

On the other hand "Marx&oldbangersRus" and "JellyfishruleOK"only survived a couple of hours each.

May 23, 2012 at 1:40 PM | Registered CommenterFoxgoose

michel: The way to look at this is that it is a sign of the times.

I don't want to spoil the party but Simon Jenkins has been writing a regular column for The Guardian since he left The Times in 2005 and has been a consistent and vocal opponent of industrial wind power for considerably longer. It is common practice for newspapers to feature columnists whose views conflict with the general thrust of editorial policy.

IIRC, this is not the first time Jenkins has aired his views in his Grauniad column to predictable howls from the urban middle class. If we want to read the runes on public attitudes to energy policy, we will have to look elsewhere. Apart from anything else and a little unusually for him, the article offers little that is new, less that is insightful and nothing by way of a principled stand on the AGW scam.

May 23, 2012 at 1:45 PM | Unregistered CommenterDaveB

Little comfort in the Guardian changing its tune if the Sunday Times is anything to go by. On page 63 read Brian Scholfield's review of the recent book "Oceans of Life" by Callum Roberts. It contains the quote (the review, that is): "Climate change is gradually lending our seas the carbonated acidity of a giant can of Coke ..." The whole review is filled with similar absurdly inflated claims. One assumes (some) impressionable children read this sort of stuff. And that, to my view, tips it from being simply silly to being downright irresponsible.

May 23, 2012 at 2:00 PM | Unregistered CommenterAlan Kennedy

Great to see so many smart people speaking out against wind turbines. Bill Bryson, Simon Jenkins, Griff Rhys Jones...

May 23, 2012 at 2:17 PM | Registered CommenterPaul Matthews

Like sHx, I’m an ex-Graunite expelled from Paradise, wandering these strange rightwing paths expecting the inevitable pickaxe through the brain. Just as many Soviet dissidents couldn’t bring themselves to imagine that Stalin knew what crimes were committed in his name, I continue to defend the honesty of CiF. Pace Foxgoose, moderators are at the mercy of CiF’s absurd pseudo-communitarian rules. I once got ten comments by a warmista removed, leaving the eleventh up as proof of the fact that my single complaints were enough to trash him. I once got a comment by Monbiot removed like that, just as someone got Montford’s comments pre-moderated on his own article. CiF is a monument to the petty vindictiveness of a certain kind of lefty, alas.

May 23, 2012 at 2:45 PM | Unregistered Commentergeoffchambers

I need some ethical advice here.

Bored to tears in my current engineering job in aerospace manufacturing I'm looking to move on. A vacancy has arisen at a wind turbine manufacturer. If offered it, will I be able to live with myself doing the Devil's work? I see the industry as a haemmorage of the national wealth; damaging to fellow citizens some of whom are in 'energy poverty'; a form of collective insanity. Dear Agony Aunt, what should I do?

May 23, 2012 at 3:03 PM | Unregistered CommenterBrent Hargreaves

As of when I write this wind is supplying .24GW out of 39GW demand.

.6%

http://www.gridwatch.templar.co.uk/

Throw another 120 billion pounds and get it up to 1%. What a bargain.

May 23, 2012 at 3:27 PM | Unregistered CommenterBruce

Dear Brent,
Apart from doing the 'Devil's work' as you rather melodramatically put it, I wonder if you really want to get involved with an industry that seems more threatened with each passing day. We 'other citizens' are getting more and more disgruntled over having our lovely views spoiled for no good reason. And to make that even worse, most of us don't get paid enough to ignore getting poorer with every rotation of those rascally rotors. So, look for a proper job, with better prospects - just as your Mum must have told you all those years ago.
Your Aunt Sally.

May 23, 2012 at 4:26 PM | Unregistered CommenterSally of the Back Pages

Interesting new power source here.

May 23, 2012 at 4:37 PM | Registered Commentersteveta

Dear Brent:

Your charmingly fluid moral ethics need not limit you to a career in wind turbine parasitism. Have you considered: Ken Livingston's new tax advice consultancy, Congolese diamond trading, or profiteering from terrorism through the sale of ineffective but dangerous X-ray scanners to airports?

I am delighted to see that you do not assume that your career need actually provide value to others. This antiquated superstition has caused untold harm to modern economies.

Auntie Krugman

May 23, 2012 at 5:00 PM | Unregistered CommenterZT

Foxgoose, greenaraminta was a great avatar to have. "She" (He?) made lots of insightful comments. I only occasionally even read CiF threads now as they are too depressingly full of JBowers, Bluecloud, and the awful SteBwhatever. When I still did, I know that geoffchambers was saying here that he still commented there under various names and I tried to play the parlour game "guess the geoff"... I forget whether I ever thought greenaraminta was he - I suspect not, to be frank.

I think that Simon Jenkins is the sort of grandee commenter who is given a lot more slack than anyone else. If Damian Carrington started writing things like this I'd really sit up and take notice!! Also, if Jenkins were to become a full-blown "denier", he'd probably be fired, but in this article he is carefully agnostic-orthodox on CAGW itself, expressing doubts about energy policy only.

May 23, 2012 at 5:20 PM | Registered CommenterJeremy Harvey

Brent,

On the other hand, you could take the job and come up with some secret cunning modifications that cause them to sieze up, or their blades fall off after a certain number of revolutions.

May 23, 2012 at 6:13 PM | Registered CommenterSalopian

Jeremy Harvey
I was SisterZoot, SisterDingo, DoctorPiglet and GeofftheChaste until somehow I was found out. I wonder whether Foxgoose was ever GreenAngelChloe, who used to demand that we sceptics be locked up, and boasted how she made her primary school pupils cry with her rendition of her composition “No More Snow”?

May 23, 2012 at 8:02 PM | Unregistered Commentergeoffchambers

Jeremy Harvey
I was SisterZoot, SisterDingo, DoctorPiglet and GeofftheChaste until somehow I was found out. I wonder whether Foxgoose was ever GreenAngelChloe, who used to demand that we sceptics be locked up, and boasted how she made her primary school pupils cry with her rendition of her composition “No More Snow”?

May 23, 2012 at 8:02 PM | Unregistered Commentergeoffchambers

I was SisterZoot, SisterDingo, DoctorPiglet and GeofftheChaste until somehow I was found out. I wonder whether Foxgoose was ever GreenAngelChloe, who used to demand that we sceptics be locked up, and boasted how she made her primary school pupils cry with her rendition of her composition “No More Snow”?

Ah! - Geoff ....memories...memories!

SisterZoot was a class act!

Sadly (& very scarily) GreenAngelChloe was the real deal - beyond parody.

She once boasted that her kids' parents were complaining about her green politics - but she didn't care 'cos it was, like, reaallly important - and she knew she was right and they were wrong.

She stopped posting after I quoted her the 1996 Education Act's provisions on political indoctrination of children and suggested she might end up in jail.

Happy days!

May 23, 2012 at 8:28 PM | Registered CommenterFoxgoose

Those in government who support this policy are worse than graffiti vandals. I suggest those who authorise the squandering of this vast amount of money are guilty of malfeasance in public office. Let's have them up in Court when this sorry farce finally bites the dust and collapses around them.

May 23, 2012 at 8:34 PM | Unregistered Commenterwindbag

Dear Agony Aunt, what should I do?
May 23, 2012 at 3:03 PM | Brent Hargreaves

Easy peasy - dear boy!

We're all (well - nearly all) free marketeers here.

Screw 'em to the wall for the juiciest salary & benefits deal you can get - then put your feet up in your comfy corner office (with view) and hammer the old expense account for all it's worth - while their industry self destructs.

That way you've struck a blow for the cause of sanity, kept your self respect, had a bit of a rest and seen a satisfactory augmentation of your bank balance.

..... and it's their own fault for being daft enough to hire you.

May 23, 2012 at 8:38 PM | Registered CommenterFoxgoose

Geoff, believe it or not I had managed to work out the GeofftheChaste one! SisterZoot rings a bell too - no memories of DoctorPiglet though - perhaps I had given up by then.

Unlike the Saintly Suzanne, I see that Simon Jenkins has comments on his article - and the amusingly named capitalistsockpuppet is claiming that Simon is only moaning about windmills because he's maybe a big landowner near a planned windfarm...

May 23, 2012 at 8:45 PM | Registered CommenterJeremy Harvey

I'm on home ground with this one. Literally

Maybe the wind farmers thought Northamptonshire was a good location because they were confused by our lighthouse?
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_Lift_Tower

About seventy [70] miles from the coast and officially opened by Queen Elizabeth II in 1982, "The Northampton Lighthouse" is thus thirty years old and celebrating it's demi-jubilee this year. :)

May 24, 2012 at 2:28 AM | Unregistered Commentermichael hart

ZT: You write, regarding my ethical dilemma: "I am delighted to see that you do not assume that your career need actually provide value to others."

Ay, there's the rub. Having long taken pride in the nobility of wealth creation, if (as I believe) the wind turbine industry for all its superficial resemblence to the manufacture of cars & planes is actually a wealth-destroyer, then it's unethical to participate in it. My dilemma is no different to that of a burglar's: should one (a) Be a good person and get by as best one can or (b) Look after number one and damn the neighbours?

The title of John Etherington's excellent book 'The Wind Farm Scam' helps me stop dithering. I can't join a company engaged in wealth destruction and the despoiling of our beauty spots. I'll withdraw.

May 24, 2012 at 9:03 AM | Unregistered CommenterBrent Hargreaves

Further to my posting yesterday, I'm here to tell you that wind is currently producing 36MW (that's THIRTYSIX MEGAWATTS) - less than 0.1% of UK electricity demand (just under 40000MW)
WHEN will these bozos in the DECC get real..?

May 24, 2012 at 2:07 PM | Unregistered CommenterDavid

Well said, David. Have a look at this correspondence. Maybe join in.

May 24, 2012 at 6:31 PM | Registered CommenterRobin Guenier

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