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« Fighting mad | Main | More litigation »
Friday
Aug242012

The car crash of energy policy

Gerard Wynn, writing at Reuters, tries to explain the effect that wind generation will have on electricity grids in Europe. The point he's getting at is that because wind and solar (a) have zero marginal cost and (b) are vastly subsised, they will displace gas (and coal) when they are available. That means that gas and coal have to recover their fixed costs and make their profit at times when wind and solar are not available, rather than 24/7 as previously.

The effects could be scary. No, make that terrifying:

Britain's Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC) has estimated that prices would have to rise to as high as 10,000 pounds ($15,700) per megawatt hour (MWh) for short periods, from an average of around 45 pounds. Prices in Britain have historically never exceeded 938 pounds per MWh.

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Reader Comments (57)

time to buy an extra duvet and some candles

Aug 24, 2012 at 7:33 PM | Registered Commentermangochutney

Well solar panelsugly as they are, dont care what you put up on your roof just dont ask me or any other tax payer to pay someone else Electricity Bill.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Headington_Shark

Aug 24, 2012 at 7:39 PM | Unregistered CommenterJamspid

While this might be amazing news to some, it was pointed out in a Poyry report, an indepth study of the UK and Irish wind energy programmes back in 2009. It was of course ignored by the administration. What really annoyed me at the time, vis a vis the obvious corruption which was occurring, was that Eirgrid, the Irish public authority responsible for the grid, participated in the study. It then refused in relation to an Access to Information on the Environment request to make available any information it had in relation to commenting on the outcome of the study.

Indeed it turned out that it never generated a single document in relation to this Poyry study, which while raised at a meeting, was in the form of a verbal discussion, for which no documentation or record was ever produced. There is a legal ruling on this:

http://www.ocei.gov.ie/en/DecisionsoftheCommissioner/Name,12416,en.htm

Plus some additional data on the UNECE webpage:

http://www.unece.org/fileadmin/DAM/env/pp/compliance/C2010-54/Communication/Annex%202%20(a-e)%20Environmental%20Information/Annex2d_ClarificationsEirdrid.pdf

As some of you may be aware, UNECE has finalised its ruling that the EU failed to comply with the Aarhus Convention in relation to the renewable energy programme. This applies to the 27 Member States. The EU has now to go back and ensure that the necessary information is provided to the public, public participation is conducted in an effective manner when all options are open and effective public participation can take place and due account is taken of the outcome of the public participation in the final decision.

Therefore I hope people get involved in raising awareness of these issues now that the renewable energy programme has been declared to be illegal (the Convention is an integral part of EU law) and the whole process of environmental assessment and consultation has now to be started in a proper manner.

Aug 24, 2012 at 7:41 PM | Unregistered CommenterPat Swords

Ever have the feeling that the lunatics have well and truly taken over the asylum? Our politicians seemed to be prepared to make us pay any price so that they can claim to be saving the world. They also seem to think that there is no danger of underestimating the intelligence of the electorate, and unfortunately they have been proved right so far - after all we elected them!

Aug 24, 2012 at 8:25 PM | Unregistered CommenterRoy

Pat Swords:

"UNECE has finalised its ruling that the EU failed to comply with the Aarhus Convention in relation to the renewable energy programme. This applies to the 27 Member States. ... the renewable energy programme has been declared to be illegal (the Convention is an integral part of EU law) ..."

Please provide a link to this ruling.

Does it overcome the objections set out in this statement from the EU Commission?

Aug 24, 2012 at 8:39 PM | Registered CommenterRobin Guenier

I think I am right in saying that upstream (oil/gas producers) suppliers, who historically had to offer a hefty 66.6 % peak load swing factor in winter, also receive compensation under the take or pay contract provisions in their long term supply contracts for forced shut-ins.

http://www.fea.com/resources/a_understanding_valuation_swing.pdf

Which historically seldom occurs, but potentially could become the routine in the farce we see unfolding.

Aug 24, 2012 at 9:06 PM | Registered CommenterPharos

Is there not an automatic limit to electricity price rises for the consumer? At some point a domestic gas powered generator becomes economic. The breakeven applies today to larger commercial operations. For a very small cost you can buy an alternator that can be retrofitted to a car engine. You can run your car in neutral outside, with an extension cord to the house. You have stand-by, peak lopping, tranportation and independence in one bundle. If your car is LPG or CNG powered it might even be CO2 positive versus the grid.

Aug 24, 2012 at 9:15 PM | Unregistered CommenterRichard Hill

From the article linked to

"Regulators in several countries are preparing to contract gas-fired electricity generation capacity to provide back-up for renewable energy on still and cloudy days, when wind and solar power are in short supply"

When you are providing over 90% of energy requirements on a daily basis, how is that "backup"? That's an abuse of language. The reality is that solar and wind are not significant players and that we are being grotesquely over-charged for our energy. Compound that with the government's lethargy about shale, and one wonders WTF is going on?

Aug 24, 2012 at 9:21 PM | Unregistered CommenterJeremy Poynton

@Aug 24, 2012 at 8:39 PM | Robin Guenier

http://bishophill.squarespace.com/blog/2012/8/22/see-you-in-court.html

STOP PRESS.

In respect of Ref. ACCC/C/2010/54 the earlier and associated complaint to UNECE, demonstrating how this programme by-passed proper assessment and democratic accountability, the ruling is now finalised and finds the EU in breach of the Convention. Furthermore in the 27 Member States the renewable programme has now to undergo proper assessment to provide the necessary information to the public, this then has to be followed by proper public participation, in which the public's input has to be taken account in the finalised decision. Please find relevant links below:

http://www.europarl.europa.eu/sides/getDoc.do;jsessionid=4EDE5DB64FF3548A768CDB9E52C63A11.node2?secondRef=0&language=IT&type=WQ&reference=E-2012-005651

Note the EU's reply on the middle right

http://www.europarl.europa.eu/sides/getAllAnswers.do?reference=E-2012-005651&language=IT

UNECE has put the following article up on their website: http://aarhusclearinghouse.unece.org/news/1000416/

Aug 24, 2012 at 9:25 PM | Registered Commenterjeremyp99

The emperor has no clothes on.
IF adding a lower cost or more efficient facility to a system causes an increase in the overall absolute cost of the output then somebody has not been keeping a close enough eye on the accountants and they have escaped (again) and run amok. If the vastly inflated prices occur for only very short periods such that the net long term cost is lower than before, then no harm is done.

By itself the low (not zero) marginal cost of wind and solar systems should not result in a net rise in total energy cost. The key factor here seems to be that the subsidies are distorting the pricing system - and allowance may need to be made by recompensing the base load system for periods when competitive advantage is gained by wind and solar systems as a direct result of subsidies. Otherwise, what is happening is that consumers are paying . for the subsidies in their spot prices "for short periods". No?

Aug 24, 2012 at 9:35 PM | Unregistered CommenterRussell McMahon

... For a very small cost you can buy an alternator that can be retrofitted to a car engine. You can run your car in neutral outside, with an extension cord to the house. You have stand-by, peak lopping, tranportation and independence in one bundle...
Aug 24, 2012 at 9:15 PM | Richard Hill

Yes, but fuel duty is a f*cker in the UK. As you suggest LPG is much better option - many generators with Honda 50cc engines are capable of being converted to LPG - that;s what I would do if starting a new. I have a 400Ah leisure battery backup system (kept topped up by a solar panel - silence is bliss) which will power 240v GU10 LED lights for a week or so at least and various wood stoves for cooking. City dwellers are f*cked though, and it won't be too rosy for most rural dwellers either when the grid goes down. .

Aug 24, 2012 at 10:13 PM | Registered Commenterlapogus

Yes, jeremyp99 (9:25 PM), I'm aware of that. What I'm requesting is a link to the ruling itself, not an assertion that there is one. And I'd also like to know if (and how) it overcomes the EU Commission's objections.

Believe me, I'd be delighted if these were to be provided. So I hope they are. But, knowing how skilful the Commissioners are at deferring almost indefinitely action on anything they find inconvenient, I'm not celebrating yet.

Aug 24, 2012 at 10:17 PM | Registered CommenterRobin Guenier

To Russell, re: "competitive advantage is gained by wind and solar".

Is it realy competitive advantage?

From what I've come to understand, wind and solar do not load share or ballance the grid in any way. They just dump power to the grid and let the others ballance it. Thereby muscling their power onto the grid and forcing the others to back down.

Aug 24, 2012 at 10:28 PM | Unregistered CommenterGreg Cavanagh

Russell McMahon & Greg Cavanagh

Remove the subsidies and you will find out who has a competitive edge. Also by removing the false market you will be surprised just how many fewer lawyers and accountants are employed.

Aug 24, 2012 at 10:42 PM | Registered CommenterGreen Sand

The Reuters marginal cost exercise is balderdash. Wind power is already available and it will never be able to supply all of the demand, because of its unreliability.

Characteristics are pretty well known; average contribution of wind over the year almost everywhere is 25% of installed capacity and for long periods the total output for the UK is close to zero (like today and like a couple of weeks back for a period of three days). There is no way wind power will be able to supply all electricity for any country. If the total installed wind energy capacity would be 100% of demand - it might be possible to handle that with the current national grid - the average output would be onle 25% of demand and the other generators would still have to supply 75%.

If some stupid bureaucrat would calculate that he/she would only have to install 4 times the average maximum electricity demand to get 100% average contribution from wind, he/she would also have to increase the national grid capacity with a factor of four. Very expensive and major blot on the landscape, together with the 25 times more windmills than we have now already. And still, the wind output would become too close to zero for too long periods.

Engineering calculations have shown that for contributions 10% of demand or more the required gas backup to supply the constant grid power demand causes zero to negative savings in fuel and CO2 emission.

For some reason this does not hit home, not even to the Bishop Hill readership. If anyone thinks these calculations are wrong, then show where. Some people assert that a "smart grid " will take care of that. That only means that people and industries will be shut off when there is no wind. I cannot see that happen. Others assert that local storage will take care of that. There is, however, no way that something like hydropower would be able to supply the required amount of backup for long periods. European hydropower is fully exploited. A Severn barrage is a crazy idea. Look at the "barrage de la Rance", in France. Much better location for tide than the Severn. But a totaslly inadequate contribution to the national grid. Using batteries is a crazy idea.

Remember, currently wind contributes only 4% of UK demand. It will take a long time to more than double this to come to even 10% contribution. And even then the other generators (nuclear and gas) will have to supply 90% of demand over the year. That shows how the marginal cost issue as described by Reuters is not important. Over 10% contribution from wind - or solar - will never happen.

Aug 24, 2012 at 11:03 PM | Unregistered CommenterAlbert Stienstra

Robin

The UNECE webpage for the case is at:

http://www.unece.org/env/pp/compliance/Compliancecommittee/54TableEU.html

The finalised ruling was sent by e-mail to both myself and the EU by e-mail last Thursday. It has not yet been posted on the webpage, there is a usually a delay of a few days before things get posted. On the webpage the draft ruling is there dated 04.05.12. You can also see the EU's comments on it, which were referred to by the EU Commissioner (DG Environment) in replying to Roger Helmer MEP's questions.

The main issue in the finalised ruling is that there was essentially little or no change to the draft ruling, the only issue of consideration being that the obligation in the draft recommendation to implement legislative measures, had on request of the EU, to be changed slightly. The rest of the EU's comments were considered invalid. So what is now in place for the findings and conclusions are below:

A. Main findings with regard to non-compliance
97. The Committee finds that the Party concerned
a. by not having in place a proper regulatory framework and/or clear
instructions to implement article 7 of the Convention with respect to the adoption of
NREAPs by Member States on the basis of Directive 2009/28/EC has failed to
comply with article 7 of the Convention (para. 85);
b. by not having properly monitored the implementation by Ireland of article 7
of the Convention in the adoption of Ireland’s NREAP also has failed to comply
with article 7 of the Convention (para. 85);
c. by not having in place a proper regulatory framework and/or clear
instructions to implement and proper measures to enforce article 7 of the Convention
with respect to the adoption of NREAPs by Member States on the basis of Directive
2009/28/EC has failed to comply also with article 3, paragraph 1, of the Convention
(para. 86);

B. Recommendations
98. The Committee pursuant to paragraph 36 (b) of the annex to decision I/7 and noting
the agreement of the Party concerned that the Committee take the measures requested in
paragraph 37 (b) of the annex to decision I/7, recommends that the Party concerned adopt a
proper regulatory framework and/or clear instructions for implementing article 7 of the
Convention with respect to the adoption of NREAPs. This would entail that the Party
concerned ensure that the arrangements for public participation in a Member State are
transparent and fair and that within those arrangements the necessary information is
provided to the public. In addition, such a regulatory framework and/or clear instructions
must ensure that the requirements of article 6, paragraphs 3, 4 and 8, of the Convention are
met, including reasonable time-frames, allowing for sufficient time for informing the public
and for the public to prepare and participate effectively, allowing for early public
participation when all options are open, and ensuring that due account is taken of the
outcome of the public participation. Moreover, the Party concerned must adapt the manner
in which it evaluates NREAPs, accordingly.

While this means that there are serious issues in relation to the fact that the public participation has now to be completed properly (Note; neither the UK NREAP nor the prior Renewable Energy Strategy evaluated environmental aspects), there are also serious legal implications. While I am not an expert in UK acts of law, I can point out that the Irish legislators had finally to get around to ratifying the Convention this year. As a result Section 8 of our Environment Miscellaneous Provisions Act of 2011 is very clear in the direction it gives:

8.— Judicial notice shall be taken of the Convention on Access to Information, Public Participation in Decision-Making and Access to Justice in Environmental Matters done at Aarhus, Denmark on 25 June 1998.

http://www.irishstatutebook.ie/2011/en/act/pub/0020/sec0008.html#sec8

Aug 24, 2012 at 11:07 PM | Unregistered CommenterPat Swords

@ Pat Swords

In your view, what happens if Brussels simply ignores all this (perhaps by promising some vague action "soon") ?

Aug 25, 2012 at 12:08 AM | Unregistered Commenterianl8888

@ianl8888

From the UNECE perspective this would in time lead to a formal caution in relation to failing to adhere to the ruling, which if further ignored would lead to the EU being delisted from the UN Convention on Human and Environmental Rights - not a thing to 'sing about', particularly when they would be getting up on a 'hoppy horse' to lecture others on democratic accountability.

From a legal perspective, the Convention is a binding part of Community law since February 2005. A breach of law has occurred. However, this wouldn't be the first time; 'Que ipsos custodes custodiet'. An age old question related to 'who watches the watchman?'

The answer to that is us, the private citizen, while the Aarhus Convention has provided us with the mechanisms to do that. So one would have to take further legal action in the Member State / European Courts. However, the ruling of last week greatly facilitates that, even more so if the EU in its future actions chooses to ignore it.

Not only are there environmental impacts, which are unacceptable in relation to this programme, but the sums of money are simply staggerring. We now have circa. 100,000 MW of wind energy in the EU-27, which on a conservative basis is some 170 Billion Euros of capital investment, all generated by subsidies, through a programme, which by-passed legally binding procedures, procedures which were directly connected to the fundamental rights of the Citizen.

There are some interesting financial liabilities on this issue, which you can browse at the links below. Remember, in its essence we have had the distortion of the EU's 'raison d'etre', the social market economy, for alleged environmental protection which has not occurred, in which the necessary rights of the citizen were completely bypassed. Why should individuals be paying for this, which as you realise from the article above in the post, is serious cash? Somebody shortly is going to come to the conclusion - not me.


http://ec.europa.eu/eu_law/infringements/infringements_dommages_en.htm

http://ec.europa.eu/competition/consultations/2011_actions_damages/draft_guidance_paper_en.pdf

Aug 25, 2012 at 12:28 AM | Unregistered CommenterPat Swords

"When you are providing over 90% of energy requirements on a daily basis, how is that "backup"? That's an abuse of language" Aug 24, 2012 at 9:21 PM | Jeremy Poynton

It is a clever Sir Humphrey Appleby lesson on how to appease the greens at the same time as being practical.

Aug 25, 2012 at 1:59 AM | Unregistered CommenterRichard Hill

>The emperor has no clothes on.

Clothing is entirely optional for British Royalty and UK energy policy mandarins at this point.

Aug 25, 2012 at 2:08 AM | Unregistered CommenterZT

"Wind capacity does not displace actual fossil fuel plants—

it displaces the generation from the back-up plants when the wind is blowing. When the wind is not blowing, the back-up plants are needed to supply the electricity needed to meet demand.

Thus, the true cost of wind power should include the cost of building plants to back up the power when the wind dies down.

Ratepayers are actually paying twice–once for the wind turbines and secondly for the capacity to back them up.

It would be cheaper for ratepayers to build new plants to replace older plants given the small, marginal reductions in carbon dioxide that are obtained from wind power."

Argonne National Laboratory

http://www.instituteforenergyresearch.org/2012/06/08/argonne-lab-study/

Aug 25, 2012 at 3:04 AM | Unregistered CommenterBruce

Home grown American energy.”

My hotair comment: That’s what Obama says he wants in his The Choice ad (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FBorRZnqtMo&info=TheChoiceAd). Sounds like some of the home grown pot O’s probably smoking. O’s idea of home grown energy is a sparse but expensive scattering of dainty windmills and the like, not home grown oil & gas, not the Real McCoy as far as energy is concerned. O is happy that we buy that oil from the muslim countries.
O's Secretary of Anti-Energy Chu wants us to be saddled with $10 gas. Maybe then we will show some appreciation for the little Danish windmills flapping in the breeze. O’s “Science” Czar says we need to de-develop the United States and “design a low-consumption economy.” While O calls for home grown energy, it will be at a price for all of us that will, he hopes, “necessarily skyrocket.”
And O’s hankering for some home grown energy reminds me of something else. The obsession with localism, and, indeed, home-grown-ism, behind the leftist dream of a pastoral utopia. Arguably this leftist dream is what has spawned the whole leftist push for de-industrialization. Now, we argue that “climate change” has served just as a pretext for the leftists to pursue their utopian dreams. A rare but telling quote:
“We have wished, we ecofreaks, for a disaster to bomb us into the Stone Age, where we might live like Indians, with our localism, our gardens, our homemade religion – guilt-free at last!” -Stewart Brand, Whole Earth Catalogue
So, why this war on energy, why this trumped up theory of gwarming? I think you find the root of the answer lies in the sentiment expressed in the quote above.

Aug 25, 2012 at 4:12 AM | Unregistered CommenterEric Simpson

@ Pat Swords

I commend your tenacity in face of the EU bureaucracy. Those comments about you by EU bureaucrats are disgraceful.

So what will be the next steps following the final UNECE ruling? Is Roger Helmer following this up? Does it need someone to take the EU to court for compensation? Does it need someone to ask questions of their MP?

I am currently producing evidence to put to a wind turbine appeal, to be decided by a Planning Inspector in the UK. Should I introduce the UNECE ruling that the renewable energy programme in the UK has been declared to be illegal, as part of my evidence?

Or what?

Aug 25, 2012 at 9:17 AM | Unregistered CommenterPhillip Bratby

Pat Swords:

First, I very much endorse Phillip Bratby's commendation. Well done.

I've read the draft finding and the Commission's and your response. This is a complex and technical matter and I maintain that we'd be wise to wait until the final recommendations are publicly available and the Commission has commented before celebrating a success. As I've said before, the Commissioners are masters of delay and prevarication when it comes to matters they find unpalatable. Note, for example, how (see the EC response to the draft findings) the Commission says it is "currently reflecting on possible non-legislative ways of improving the implementation by Member States of Article 7 of the Convention." Hmm ... it's hard to imagine a more meaningless commitment.

Aug 25, 2012 at 10:11 AM | Registered CommenterRobin Guenier

@Robin Guenier

"...the Commission says it is "currently reflecting on possible non-legislative ways of improving the implementation by Member States of Article 7 of the Convention." Hmm ... it's hard to imagine a more meaningless commitment."

Please see my comment above re Brussels promising to take some vague action "soon" and Pat Swords reply. This is exactly why I asked Pat the question

Aug 25, 2012 at 10:50 AM | Unregistered Commenterianl8888

But there is nothing that the UK parliament can do about it now. We have signed our energy policies over to Brussels. Actually that is not quite true as we could reclaim our own destiny if Westminster politicians had the balls to do so.

Aug 25, 2012 at 11:02 AM | Unregistered CommenterPaul

10 million fuel cells in homes will destroy the oligarchical control of the National Grid and will be a nice little earner, along with solar cells, for home-owners selling peak power.

Aug 25, 2012 at 11:14 AM | Unregistered CommenterAlecM

Home fossil fuel generation will not work to limit energy prices as the government will simply ban it outright on environmental grounds or encourage local authorities to make it impossible using restrictions on noise, emissions and / or fuel storeage.

In the event of a grid failure (increasingly likely with more and more erratic "green" generation connected to it) there will be a number of people in any community whose reaction to others in that community who have power when they do not will be to deprive them of it by any means. If complaints to the council don't work quickly enough, sand in the fuel tank.

Aug 25, 2012 at 11:32 AM | Unregistered CommenterNW

ianl8888:

That was merely an example of the kind of vague phrasing of which the Commission is a master. As for what happens now, I suggest (yet again) that we wait until we have full access to the final recommendations and have seen the EC's response. Then we should have a better idea of where things really stand.

BTW Pat's response to you does not bode too well: I wonder just how long an action that "would in time lead to a formal caution" and its aftermath might take?

Aug 25, 2012 at 11:58 AM | Registered CommenterRobin Guenier

All

So where does it go from here following the UNECE ruling? If people sit back and do nothing then they will get the administration they deserve, it is a democracy and the citizen gets what he puts into democracy. However, it is important to realise that the Aarhus Convention, and by its extension the justice system, are an important part of the democratic process, which should be accessed to ensure democratic accountability.

I could start off with a question. You have MPs, public administrations which make decisions on your behalf, etc. How do you interact with them and ensure they stay onside? One could start with writting, after all that is what the access to information on the environment regulations are there for?

http://www.itspublicknowledge.info/Law/EIRs/EIRs.asp
http://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2004/3391/contents/made

You can then also participate in decisions on planning and programmes. The failures to comply with the Aarhus Convention in this regard are very important. The Convention requires that not only public participation be conducted in a transparent and fair manner, but that there has to be a legal basis for consideration of environmental aspects in the decision making. If we consider the NREAPs in the 27 Member States, this by-passed this requirement. See Section 5.3 at the end of the EU template, which 19 of the Member States simply left blank:

http://ec.europa.eu/energy/renewables/doc/nreap__adoptedversion__30_june_en.pdf

The UK NREAP referrred to its Renewable Energy Strategy and Consultation, which failed to address environmental aspects before it was adopted.

Impact Assessment of UK Renewable Energy Strategy

• http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukia/2009/177/pdfs/ukia_20090177.pdf

See Sections 161 to 163 and 172 to 173. So the UK adopted the plan first and then tried to whitewash through the environmental assessment afterwards.

The Aarhus Convention is also clear in that public authorities shall possess and update environmental information which is relevant to their function and that it is transparent and relatively accessible. One can see this in Section 4 and 5 (4) of the EIR (2004) regulations referred to above. Yet we now have 100,000 MW of wind energy in the EU-27 and no verified emissions data. DECC for instance can't provide any.

Wind farms are subject to the Environmental Impact Assessment Directive, Article 3 of this requires that the planning authority complete its OWN assessment of the environmental factors, including climate. See below. So where is the documentation in which the planners have done this, you can for instance request it under the Access to Information on the Environment (EIR) regulations, they have to provide it to you:

http://eur-lex.europa.eu/LexUriServ/LexUriServ.do?uri=OJ:L:2012:026:0001:0021:EN:PDF

See also Points 34 to 41 of a recent decision of the European Court of Justice:

http://eur-lex.europa.eu/LexUriServ/LexUriServ.do?uri=CELEX:62009CJ0050:EN:NOT

So your planners in approving a wind farm have to provide you with a valid assessment of the climate change benefits of this proposal as a justification for approving it. Simply put they are not legally in a position to do this and if they continue to approve wind farms then there is an extremely valid basis for a Judicial Review of their decisions in the High Court.

Secondly, if no public authority has any transparent information on the environmental benefits of this programme, which they approved and initiated by by-passing the necessary environmental assessments, then the funding arrangements they have approved based on distorting the single market for the purpose of environmental protection are illegal. This will in time be challenged by somebody in Court, as there is an increasing financial burden on individuals and companies.

So if people sit back and do nothing, the authorities will continue on their 'merry way'. First step would be to start writting, there are other MEPs than Roger Helmer out there. What are they doing about it, are they supporting this programme which has by-passed legal accountability? What are DECC going to do about verified emissions, complying with the Convention? What are your planners preparing to comply with Article 3 of the EIA Directive in relation to their assessment of the climate implications of the wind farms they are approving? Anybody know a good lawyer to take on what would be a very profitable legal challenge?

Aug 25, 2012 at 12:09 PM | Unregistered CommenterPat Swords

NW: if you get direct action of that kind, there will be a response to it and it will involve direct action against the landowners who are in the minority.

Aug 25, 2012 at 12:30 PM | Unregistered CommenterAlecM

"..Gerard Wynn, writing at Reuters, tries to explain the effect that wind generation will have on electricity grids in Europe...."

Oh. He's talking about money.

There's a lot more critical issues about wind power and electricity than the cost. Germany is starting to find this out already. Once you get more than 5-10% wind power grid feeding, the whole system starts to become unstable and difficult to control. No one talks about this, because the maths of control theory is complex, and the people who do understand it usually aren't very good at making themselves understood by politicians.

Greenies don't understand it either, but don't care. So look for more headlines like this:

http://www.spiegel.de/international/germany/instability-in-power-grid-comes-at-high-cost-for-german-industry-a-850419.html

Aug 25, 2012 at 12:42 PM | Unregistered CommenterDodgy Geezer

Philip Bratby:

'I am currently producing evidence to put to a wind turbine appeal, to be decided by a Planning Inspector in the UK'.

Sorry, mate - but Planning Inspectors' record on wind turbine appeals is not good - they have a tendency to overturn the 'democratically elected' local Planning Committee's decisions to (usually) reject wind turbines...

Please prove me wrong with your evidence...

Aug 25, 2012 at 1:15 PM | Unregistered CommenterDavid

Pat:

You ask:

where does it go from here following the UNECE ruling?
Well, as I've said several times, we haven't yet seen the ruling (or, more accurately, the recommendations) nor have we seen the Commission's response. Although preparation for action is wise and useful, it's unwise and often counter-productive to take action before you have all the facts. In other words, don't pull the trigger until you can see the whites of their eyes.

I'm sorry to be a bore about this. But I'm a lawyer and being boring is a characteristic of lawyers.

Aug 25, 2012 at 1:28 PM | Registered CommenterRobin Guenier

David:

I have given evidence at many inquiries before Planning Inspectors and I have read many Inspectors' decisions. I have no faith in the system as I have seen them ignore evidence, ignore local opinion and toe the Government line - but in theory they have to abide by the law and if I can throw a spanner in the works......

I shall wait for the final ruling.

Aug 25, 2012 at 2:09 PM | Unregistered CommenterPhillip Bratby

Philip Bratby
Yes, introduce everything you can think of. The inspector will almost certainly ignore it, but can't deny you brought it to his attention. The really benefit will hopefully come later, if you can make that known. (This is about politics after all.)

Aug 25, 2012 at 2:46 PM | Unregistered Commenterfenbeagle

 @ Aug 24, 2012 at 11:03 PM |  Albert Stienstra says:

Others assert that local storage will take care of that. There is, however, no way that something like hydropower would be able to supply the required amount of backup for long periods. European hydropower is fully exploited.

Agreed. A back of the envelope calculation shows that large scale storage of hydroelectric energy by gravity dams is unrealistic.

To get a feel for the scale:

The most famous example is The Three Gorges Dam in China. You know, the one where they disowned and relocated 1.3 million people.

The dam is made of 27.2 million m3 of concrete, 463.000 tons of steel and 102.6 million m3 of earth was moved for it.

The Chinese estimated the costs of the Three Gorges Dam to be 180 billion yuan (22.5 billion dollar), but the costs had risen to 148 thousand billion yuan (18,5 trillion euro) by 2008 and they were not even finished.

On paper the dam produces an impressive 80 terraWh yearly (288 Peta Joule).

The yearly Dutch energy consumption is 3.492 PetaJ.

If we had the 110 meter elevation difference ;-), we would need 12 Three Gorges Dams to be able to supply the Dutch economy and the water would cover 22% of the country (12 lakes of 660 km by 1.1 km).

If it was used to supply only the dutch industry (which uses 1.219 PetaJ yearly), it would only take  4 Three Gorges Dams.

Aug 25, 2012 at 7:11 PM | Unregistered CommenterWijnand

How does this quote from Mr. Smith (Renewables UK)
"We want to keep electricity bills as low as possible. So we have to stop importing massive amounts of expensive fossil fuels from abroad as we have no control over how much they cost. We know exactly how much wind costs: just 2p per household per day – that’s according to independent regulator Ofgem."

sit with this?

"Britain's Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC) has estimated that prices would have to rise to as high as 10,000 pounds ($15,700) per megawatt hour (MWh) for short periods, from an average of around 45 pounds. Prices in Britain have historically never exceeded 938 pounds per MWh."

Aug 25, 2012 at 7:28 PM | Unregistered CommenterDon Keiller

@ Robin Guenier

You may well be a lawyer and have your own opinions. However, as Senator Moynihan stated: "You are entitled to your own opinions, but not your own facts". I'm not a lawyer, I'm an engineer and I took thus case through the UNECE process to reach the position we now have today, a legal ruling that the EU by-passed the necessary environmental assessments and democratic accountability in relation to this renewable energy programme in the 27 Member States.

You have an opinion in relation to waiting to see what the Commission respond. The fact of the matter is what they respond does not make any difference, the ruling is now in place. As regards enforcing the matter and gaining further leverage off it, this will require further legal avenues as UNECE are not an enforcement body in the normal sense, they are a legal Compliance Committee. You may not be of the opinion to engage in such matters, but the fact is that others will.

Aug 25, 2012 at 7:31 PM | Unregistered CommenterPat Swords

fenbeagle

I will certainly take Pat Swords' advice and include the final ruling in my evidence. As you say it can be ignored, as a lot of evidence is, but we have to keep trying to get justice.

Aug 25, 2012 at 8:16 PM | Unregistered CommenterPhillip Bratby

It is really great to see Pat Swords blogging here.

Visit him on Turn180...the only Irish blog (of which I am aware) skeptical of AGW

Aug 25, 2012 at 10:36 PM | Registered Commenterpeterwalsh

Pat:

My primary concern is the publication of the recommendations, not the Commission's response. Until they have been published, they cannot be examined in detail nor can they be acted upon or cited. For example, how is Phillip to include the final ruling in his evidence if he cannot cite a public document, show how it relates to his case and refer specifically to chapter and verse? To overlook all this would be an invitation to being ignored.

A suggestion. You say you have had notice of the ruling by email. Good - a useful move now would be to acknowledge its receipt and ask when it is to be published.

As for the Commission's response, it's important to see it so as to determine whether it believes it has any let outs and, if so, what they might be. Understanding your opponent is basic to success.

Aug 25, 2012 at 10:46 PM | Registered CommenterRobin Guenier

We are all forced to pay for the scam of wind energy on every increasing energy bill. The costs are set to escalate, both for consumers and British industry. This makes industry far less competetive on the open market and strangles growth.
Join us and circulate please.
http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/22704

Aug 25, 2012 at 11:16 PM | Unregistered Commenterotters

@Robin Guenier

"Understanding your opponent is basic to success."

Thank you for your reply above, but you have misunderstood me. I know the opponents only too well - hence my point to Pat that this process runs a very high risk of going nowhere. Bureaucrats and politicians don't mind too much looking stupid, but they very much mind losing

I agree with Pat. People deserve the administration that they get, and a majority of the populace will not make the effort to understand this issue. I admire Pat's intelligent persistence; I fear it may become wasted

Aug 26, 2012 at 12:37 AM | Unregistered Commenterianl8888

ianl8888:

I don't believe I misunderstood you. You're right about bureaucrats and politicians and your comment to Pat is valid. I agree with you about Pat: his persistence is both remarkable and admirable.

What I'm saying is this: to have a hope of prevailing, we must know precisely what the ruling says and what its recommendations are. Without that knowledge, we risk making errors. Therefore it's essential to wait for publication before we rush to any conclusions about the best course of action.

As for knowing the opponents well - of course we do. All the more reason for finding out, examining carefully and understanding whatever courses of action they think they have to avoid the consequences of the ruling.

Aug 26, 2012 at 7:36 AM | Registered CommenterRobin Guenier

Lapogus

"LPG is much better option"

Isn't heating oil cheaper still? Presumably there's no objection to running a diesel generator from it? Noisy and smelly, I know, but the threat of everyone doing it might be persuasive!

Aug 26, 2012 at 8:44 AM | Registered Commenterjamesp

Robin

I'm sure there are others out there who might be interested as I am, to a reply to a simple question: What have you ever done that is useful to counteract this programme? If you are so knowledgeable in such issues of law, then surely the words of John F Kennedy apply; "ask not what your country can do ....".

I also get the impressions that you cannot read what does not suit your own opinions. After the first time you asked for the ruling, I posted the Findings and Recommendations into the post above (number 17). I am surprised that as you consider yourself such an authority on these matters, that you are unaware that the UNECE process is fully transparent and the documents are published on the relevant Communications webpage, but this takes a few days for them to be uploaded.

http://www.unece.org/env/pp/compliance/Compliancecommittee/54TableEU.html

Such comments therefore as to: "You say you have had notice of the ruling by email. Good - a useful move now would be to acknowledge its receipt and ask when it is to be published" just display basic lack of knowledge of the subject matter and process.

Furthermore, despite me facilitating yourself by posting the recommendations and clarifying that this was the finalised form, you then persisted in requesting on four of your following posts that you be provided access to the recommendations.

What I can deduce from this is that I wouldn't pay for your services as a lawyer, as you don't seem to have basic skills in handling information.

Finally, while UNECE will upload the relevant documents onto the Communication webpage in the next few days, following the initial request for them from yourself, I did sent the pdfs to the 'Bishop', so that he could if he choose post them on this site.

Aug 26, 2012 at 12:36 PM | Unregistered CommenterPat Swords

All

For those who are interested, the relevant documents are now posted on the European Platform Against Wind Farm's (EPAW) website:

http://www.epaw.org/documents.php?lang=en&article=c3

As mentioned previously, they will also be available on the relevant UNECE webpage within the next few days.

Aug 26, 2012 at 4:58 PM | Unregistered CommenterPat Swords

Pat:

Thanks for the interesting comments. I’ll deal with them in turn.

First, your simple question: What have [I] ever done to counteract this programme? Well, I’ve been active on this blog, e.g. here (Aug 10: 8:27 AM & 3:01 PM), here (Aug 12: 3:44, 8:43, 9:39 & 10:48 PM / Aug 13: 12:28 AM), here (Aug 18: 7:12 PM / Aug 19: 7:43 & 9:17 AM and 2:47, 5:00 & 7:03 PM) and here (Aug 22: 11:43 AM) and on other (less sympathetic) blogs, e.g. here (May 23: 7:37 AM and thereafter) and here (June 10: 8:54 AM and thereafter). On a wider front, I have corresponded (in detail and over several years) with my MP about various climate change issues, in particular the wretched Climate Change Act 2008 and “renewable” problems. In one memorable example, I received (via my MP) a response from Chris Huhne, the previous Secretary of State.

Clearly, none of this matches your admirable efforts – but I hope I may have made at least some contribution to improving understanding.

Second the various useful links etc. that you have provided. Well, I’ve examined them all and have downloaded a lot of material to my computer. In the process, I have gained a far better understanding of this convoluted matter; thanks for making that possible.

But one thing is clear: until today, the most recent published detail regarding the recommendations of the Compliance Committee was to be found in a document, reference ACCC/C/2010/54, dated 29 April 2012 and headed “Draft findings”. This was plainly not the final version. The simple point I have been making here is that, in my view, it's prudent to wait until we have that final version before, as I said above, we rush to any conclusions about the best course of action. You say that the final version will be uploaded to the UNECE website in the next few days. So we don’t have long to wait. Better still, we now have the EPAW announcement you posted this afternoon and its link to the “advance unedited” document (“Findings and recommendations”). This looks exceptionally encouraging. Many congratulations.

A brief review of this document indicates that, although there are a few differences from the draft, these seem to be of little importance. I thought it might be helpful for people following this thread if I were to set out the final version of the Recommendations (the “Party concerned” is the EU Commission):

98. The Committee pursuant to paragraph 36 (b) of the annex to decision I/7 and noting the agreement of the Party concerned that the Committee take the measures requested in paragraph 37 (b) of the annex to decision I/7, recommends that the Party concerned adopt a proper regulatory framework and/or clear instructions for implementing article 7 of the Convention with respect to the adoption of NREAPs. This would entail that the Party concerned ensure that the arrangements for public participation in a Member State are transparent and fair and that within those arrangements the necessary information is provided to the public. In addition, such a regulatory framework and/or clear instructions must ensure that the requirements of article 6, paragraphs 3, 4 and 8, of the Convention are met, including reasonable time-frames, allowing for sufficient time for informing the public and for the public to prepare and participate effectively, allowing for early public participation when all options are open, and ensuring that due account is taken of the outcome of the public participation. Moreover, the Party concerned must adapt the manner in which it evaluates NREAPs, accordingly.

This is slightly different from the draft – but, so far as I can see, the differences are not important.

I’ll be intrigued to see how the EU Commission responds to this development. And to learn more – from Pat and others – about its likely practical implications.

(As for your observations about my competence, all I’ll say is that you’re entitled to your view.)

Aug 26, 2012 at 9:53 PM | Registered CommenterRobin Guenier

Robin

Suggest you now ask some questions using the EIR regulations (or just asking your MP) of how the UK is actually going to comply with this ruling. As part of the Scottish UNECE Communication referred to on another recent post, I looked in some depth at the UK NREAP and associated Renewable Energy Strategy.

Section 5.3 of the UK National Renewable Energy Action Plan (NREAP) states:

• “Alongside the publication of the Renewable Energy Strategy in 2009, we undertook analysis on the likely impact. This is published on the DECC website ”.

Section 5.4 of the NREAP states:

• “This National Renewable Energy Action Plan is based on the UK Renewable Energy Strategy which was developed following an extensive consultation exercise with the Devolved Administrations, regional and local Government, other public groups, the private sector and members of the public”.

The Aarhus Convention is clear with regard to the “importance of fully integrating environmental considerations in governmental decision-making and the consequent need for public authorities to be in possession of accurate, comprehensive and up-to date environmental information”. Indeed with regard to Article 7 of the Convention, the “Aarhus Convention: An Implementation Guide” is clear in that: The requirement that Parties ensure that “due account is taken of the outcome of public participation” implies that there must be a legal basis to take environmental considerations into account in plans, programmes and policies.

It is not disputed that extensive documentation was produced as part of the UK Renewable Energy Strategy. However, the point is that it did not address environmental aspects or indeed the Aarhus Convention itself. There was also an ongoing failure, which has been documented by others as well, for DECC to provide transparency in relation to the emission savings attributed to this Renewable Energy Strategy, i.e. they don't have any verified emissions savings data.

It is also abundantly clear from the following documentation that there was a deliberate position taken by the authorities, that the environmental aspects associated with the Renewable Energy Strategy, which had enormous implications alone for the rural areas of Scotland, were simply to be addressed at a latter stage, if at all, following the position where the NREAP had been adopted and the plan used as a basis to fast track planning approvals through the planning system. In other words, these environmental issues would only be addressed long after the position had passed ‘for early public participation, when all options were open and effective public participation can take place’.

Indeed it is also to be seen from the following documentation, that there was a failure to ‘take due account of the outcome of the public participation’. The documentation produced in this regard only ran to a page and ignored the significant number of Submissions, which were critical of the UK authorities’ assessment of renewable potential, in particular the dominant position given to wind energy.

Impact Assessment of UK Renewable Energy Strategy

• http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukia/2009/177/pdfs/ukia_20090177.pdf

See Points 161-163, 172-173

UK Renewable Energy Strategy

• http://webarchive.nationalarchives.gov.uk/20110523172013/http://decc.gov.uk/assets/decc/What%20we%20do/UK%20energy%20supply/Energy%20mix/Renewable%20energy/Renewable%20Energy%20Strategy/1_20090717120647_e_@@_TheUKRenewableEnergyStrategy2009.pdf

Points 6.5-6.6, 7.9 and Appendix A


UK Renewable Energy Consultation

• http://webarchive.nationalarchives.gov.uk/20110523172013/http://decc.gov.uk/assets/decc/Consultations/Renewable%20Energy%20Strategy%20Consultation/1_20090428142549_e_@@_condocres.pdf

Points 3.2.2 to 3.2.3, 3.3.2,

UK Renewable Energy Strategy: Analysis of Consultation Responses

• http://webarchive.nationalarchives.gov.uk/20110523172013/http://decc.gov.uk/assets/decc/Consultations/Renewable%20Energy%20Strategy%20Consultation/1_20090428153348_e_@@_resanalysisresponses.pdf

Those disagreeing with the assessment of potential (81 respondents) were most likely to raise the following concerns (total number of mentions shown):
• (24) Wind energy being overemphasised and unreliable / perceived misplaced Government bias in favour of wind energy (a view mostly liked to be put forward here by “Others”)

“The carbon savings of wind turbines is minimal, frequently grossly over stated by the energy companies, and is far from secure. Furthermore, the government strategy favours the exaggeration of these carbon savings by wind energy in order to attempt to meet its own unrealistic targets.” (Regional NGO)

Renewable Energy Strategy – Consultation: Initial Response to Consultation Responses

• http://webarchive.nationalarchives.gov.uk/20110523172013/http://decc.gov.uk/assets/decc/Consultations/Renewable%20Energy%20Strategy%20Consultation/1_20090428151412_e_@@_resinitialresponse.pdf

Note: This was a single one page document which concluded:

The summary of responses shows that the majority of respondents agreed with the assessments and proposals set out in the consultation document on most issues.

Aug 26, 2012 at 11:14 PM | Unregistered CommenterPat Swords

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