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« Tip drive | Main | Save your Scientists! Josh 185 »

A win against the windies

Last night's Spectator debate produced a resounding victory for the forces of light. Votes were held on the motion "Scotland's energy policy is a load of hot air" before and after the debate. Struan Stevenson and I were ahead after the first vote, although not strongly so, but produced a strong swing during the course of the evening which left us with a resounding victory.

I think many of the audience will have been unimpressed with the tactics of our opponents. Niall Stuart, the CEO of Scottish Renewables, had written a speech that opened by suggesting that I had misled the audience on the facts and then proceeded to tell them I had said several things in my speech that I hadn't. For example he told them that I had said that wind "doesn't work". In fact I had said "Don't get me wrong, this [wind] can be done, but at a cost".

His whole speech was unbelievable, but I must say I had no opportunity to correct what he said:

  • he talked about wind creating jobs when of course these jobs are created at the expense of destruction of jobs in the rest of the economy and of course to the extent that a technology creates jobs it is an expensive technology;
  • he said that DECC has shown that renewables will make consumers pay less for their energy, although IIRC this is because DECC assumes that consumers will consume only half the amount of energy they do now;
  • he talked about the cost of wind approaching that of mainstream power sources, a suggestion that involves the use of the levelised costs fiddle;
  • he talked about shale in the UK being limited in extent, a suggestion that involves only considering the reserves - the amounts identified by Cuadrilla - and not the resources - all the shales that have yet to be tested because the government hasn't issued licences yet.

It was an amazing performance. The whole thing was filmed so with a bit of luck we can give it a more thorough going over at some time.

Stuart Haszeldine's talk was less outrageous, although I don't think he won many friends by trying to personalise the debate - he showed a picture of the Hockey Stick Illusion with a rather snide remark about it being "marketing" rather than anything more useful. An audience member later asked him if he had read it, and he admitted that he had only looked through it, so he ended up looking a bit silly.

I was pretty nervous about giving a formal speech - I'm used to speaking to slides in a relatively informal way. Also, having Andrew Neil as chairman was intimidating, because he is so good at picking out the weaknesses in an argument. In the end it went pretty well though and I got laughs at all the right points.

A very satisfactory evening.


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Reader Comments (47)

How come you couldn't refute any of Nialls comments?

Although isn't it interesting that once again the catastrophiliacs indulge in personal attacks instead of dealing with the facts. Seems every time you get these guys on a panel with "deniers" all they can do is personally attack the other side.


Sep 20, 2012 at 8:40 AM | Unregistered CommenterMailman

Everybody in the renewables job-destruction, economy-destroying schemes will tell lies to ensure they keep getting rich on the subsidies.

Sep 20, 2012 at 8:50 AM | Unregistered CommenterPhillip Bratby

Well done. Hopefully you will get a taste for formal speaking. We need informed voices to speak up.

Sep 20, 2012 at 8:52 AM | Unregistered Commenterfenbeagle

So that's two world class Andrew Ms from Central Scotland in the last couple of weeks. :-)

Nice one Your Grace

Sep 20, 2012 at 9:12 AM | Unregistered CommenterLatimer Alder

Well done Bish, keep up the good work. Let's hope we get to see the thing on video.

Sep 20, 2012 at 9:17 AM | Unregistered CommenterDavid C

Well done Bish & Struan, wish I could have been there. If only our planning system could be so democratic. But sadly this fight with the subsidy junkies is not over - just look what SSE have planned for the hills to the south and west of Loch Ness: Alan Sloman's The Monadhliath Mountains Ring of Steel: Update II.

Sep 20, 2012 at 9:18 AM | Registered Commenterlapogus

Well done Bish, we move forward a millimetre at a time, but it's still forward.

Sep 20, 2012 at 9:28 AM | Unregistered Commentergeronimo

Well done BIsh.

Happy to hear that when these folks (Stuart et al) try it on in the real world, they find that the 'ordinary folk' in the stalls are nothing like the collection of stupid sheeples that they like to take 'em for.

Sep 20, 2012 at 9:30 AM | Unregistered CommenterJerryM

Great result, well done Bish, Andrew Neil is going to remember you and that isn't a bad thing either.

Sep 20, 2012 at 9:31 AM | Unregistered CommenterRichard Drake

"Spectator Debate: Scotland's Energy Policy is Just Hot AIr"

"First on was Andrew Montford. Having seen his presentation as St.Andrews I was expected a rather narrowly focused presentation. Instead he flowed freeely through all the main points......"


For Against Don't know
Before 66 (58%) 36 (32%) 12 (11%)
After 126 (72%) 50 (28%) 0 (0%)

Sep 20, 2012 at 9:32 AM | Registered CommenterGreen Sand

Nice one, Andrew.

Niall Stuart's bio. shows him up for the lefty in green clothes he is.

Mind you, like most Lefties, Hec is keen to privatise his own money, whilst nationalising everyone elses'.

Sep 20, 2012 at 9:55 AM | Unregistered CommenterDon Keiller

Well done! Scotland is going to make a case-study in folly with its rush to renewables. Clear, demonstrable folly at each and every headstrong stage. Your and Stevenson's standing up against it is very welcome at this one.

Sep 20, 2012 at 9:56 AM | Unregistered CommenterJohn Shade

If the hockey stick is marketing...
Well the IPCC choose it ;-)

Sep 20, 2012 at 10:05 AM | Unregistered CommenterBarry Woods

Dear Bishop

I am of course pleased that you struck a blow for the cause but I must point out that smuggling in an extra 60 of your supporters during the debate is hardly the kind of tactic that a man of the cloth should stoop to.

Sep 20, 2012 at 10:18 AM | Registered CommenterDung

Sooner or later we all will have to stand up and be counted. You stood up, and by all accounts what you said counted. Well done.

Sep 20, 2012 at 10:37 AM | Unregistered CommenterMostlyHarmless

Stuart Haszeldine was one of my lecturers at Strathclyde Uni. I remember him lamenting about the oil price crash in 1985/86...

Sep 20, 2012 at 10:39 AM | Unregistered CommenterJimmy Haigh

I was about to write the same thing, Dung!

114 people at the start of the debate and 176 at the end? Bishop, you must have been pulling in the crowds, but it does make the effectiveness of the debate rather ambiguous!

Sep 20, 2012 at 10:46 AM | Unregistered Commentertilting@windmills

Desperate Davey at the DECC has launched a 'sweetener' consultation:

The community benefits consultation

Sep 20, 2012 at 11:15 AM | Unregistered Commenter@HG54

Hey Bish, it is just unfair from you to use facts in such a debate!! Stop that at once! Regards from the snowy Swiss Mountains

Sep 20, 2012 at 11:30 AM | Unregistered CommenterFreddie Stoller

Thanks very much for the latest from DECC, @HG54, which begins like this:

Communities that host onshore wind farms could benefit from reduced electricity bills and investment in local infrastructure, Energy Secretary Edward Davey said today.

The comments came alongside the launch of a call for evidence aimed at ensuring that communities secure financial, social and environmental benefit from hosting onshore wind farms.

I'm not sure if this is Desperate Davey, Devious Davey or Dubious Davey. It could be a classic first step of a major U-turn that the minister in charge cannot be interpreted to have made. The fact there's a call for evidence from communities sounds to me like the death-knell for wind. But the sweeteners mentioned first may indeed be a desperate attempt by Big Wind to keep the gravy train on the rails. All to fight for - and great that our host has had such a public chance to have his say just as this is announced. Mr Andrew Neil will be tracking these developments as he returns to London, no doubt about that.

Sep 20, 2012 at 11:47 AM | Unregistered CommenterRichard Drake

Andrew you did exceptionally well. Having heard you speak at St.Andrews, it was clear you were nervous but so was Prof Haszeldine.

If you weren't aware we got our "global warming the facts" leaflet out on almost all seats - although they removed them from the speakers table. And I saw most people reading them before the debate.

And yes Andrew Neil was an excellent chair. As for Niall - I got so angry with what he said (I was in the wind industry I know what is and isn't a lie) and you were doing such a good job that I didn't need to speak.

Only one question. Did Professor Haszeldine intend to say it's all going to end in "serial wars" or "cereal wars"?

For my report see:

Sep 20, 2012 at 12:04 PM | Registered CommenterMikeHaseler

Don Quixote

The debate actually must have been very good because at the end there was not a single "Dont know" so on that basis as well as reports of his speech its grrrrrrrrats to his grace again ^.^

Sep 20, 2012 at 12:11 PM | Registered CommenterDung

Well done your Grace. If only people were allowed to hear informed opinion across the spectrum of this debate, rather than the tedious propaganda of catastrophe.

You should see the front page of the NZ Listener this month (what passes for an intelligent magazine in Aotearoa). A facsimile of 1995, 1998, 2001, 2003, 2006, 2009...we're all doomed. DOOMED!!

Sep 20, 2012 at 12:13 PM | Unregistered CommenterGiixxerboy

Giixxerboy Sep 20, 2012 at 12:13 PM

Here's a link for the NZListener:

What are they worried about? Getting run over by ice from the ever expanding Antarctic ice sheet caused by global warming?

Sep 20, 2012 at 12:16 PM | Unregistered CommenterJimmy Haigh

Good to meet you last night Andrew, I was the audience member who asked if he'd read the HSI. He described it as 'Marketing Opinion' which pretty much confirmed he hadn't.

I nearly laughed out loud when Stuart Hazeldine put up the 'Hockey Stick' graph as his first slide. I only realised later that it stopped at 2000 (I think). A much stronger question woudl have been to ask why this was the case and if he was hiding the fact there's been no warming in 15 years from the audience.

He was generally unimpressive and his claim that technology that allows storage of days worth of energy 'might' be developed some time in the future was laughable. He's a geologist so has no real expertise in actually developing things (I assume).

Niall Stuart claimed that coal fired power stations are only 40% efficient, so at 35% wind isn't far behind. This is an impressive claim but I suspect is a blatent distortion / lie. I presume coal fired power stations generate 40% of the potential chemical energy as electricity, where wind generates on average 35% of the installed capacity. Another question woudl have been to ask why he felt he had to use such underhand tactics to make his point, I only thought of this on the way home :-( .

One other impression I got is that there were a lot of people in the room with vested interests in renewables, eg the guy sitting beside me handles PR/marketign for some wind developers. It would have been interesting to have held the vote at the end excluding anyone with a vested interest in either side of the debate, I think you'd have won by a much bigger margin.

A good entertaining evening, how did dinner go afterwards?

Sep 20, 2012 at 12:24 PM | Unregistered CommenterNial

Struan Stevenson's speech is here...

Sep 20, 2012 at 12:29 PM | Unregistered CommenterNial

sounds like u performed well, bish.
however, everyone has their price, so the pollies think! view all comments cos too many of those showing are a little too approving of the bribery:

20 Sept: Daily Mail: Tamara Cohen: People who oppose nearby wind farms to receive 'bribes' of lower energy bills
Wind farm developers could contribute to 'community funds' to placate campaigners
Critics accuse Energy Sec Ed Davey of using 'bribes' to split communities and throw planning process
He (Davey) announced yesterday that communities that accept the building of wind-farms nearby will be rewarded with lower energy bills or amenities like children’s playgrounds...
The idea was proposed earlier this year by Tim Yeo, chairman of the Energy and Climate Change Committee who said: ‘We do have to work harder to find places where wind turbines are acceptable and be more creative about sharing the benefits with locals. Frankly, we need to bribe them.’ ...

June: Tory MP calls for countryside windfarm 'bribes'

Sep 20, 2012 at 12:42 PM | Unregistered Commenterpat

"the cost of wind approaching that of mainstream power sources"

So they won't need subsidies, then...

Well done, Bish. No harm in being on Andrew Neil's speed-dial, either.

Sep 20, 2012 at 12:57 PM | Unregistered CommenterJames P

The despised masses see how those on the Warmist side routinely behave -- even in something as short as an evening debate -- and instinctively feel their creepiness and lack of integrity. That's one reason for a swing in the numbers.

One recent Warmist screed called for their side to produce an equivalent of Monckton. This is something they couldn't achieve in an aeon -- Monckton has wit, self-awareness, and above all, humility, traits which Warmists cannot achieve (if they had them, they wouldn't be Warmists).

Sep 20, 2012 at 1:59 PM | Unregistered CommenterRick Bradford

Your Grace,

You are obviously being very unfair to Niall Stuart and DECC when you wrote:

he [Niall Stuart] said that DECC has shown that renewables will make consumers pay less for their energy, although IIRC this is because DECC assumes that consumers will consume only half the amount of energy they do now

Since the wind is only blowing strongly enough about a third of the time the reduction in energy usage will be closer to two thirds. A triumph for the Greens!

Sep 20, 2012 at 2:31 PM | Unregistered CommenterRoy

Stuart Haszeldine was also a main witness against the Deep Underground repository at Sellafield. IIRC he stated that there was too much uncertainty in structure and hydrology to allow underground nuclear waste storage - I would have thought that that applied to CCS too.

Sep 20, 2012 at 3:13 PM | Unregistered CommenterDerek Walton

"Reliable wind data for insurance contracts"

"It offers a consistent dataset for creating and settling low wind insurance contracts at any onshore and offshore location in the UK and across Europe."

So an operator can insure against the wind no blowing? I wonder who picks up the bill for the premiums?

Also can claim from the grid if it can't cope when it blows hard?

Who said wind power is intermittent? Wind energy might be but revenue seems to be very consistent.

The wonderful opportunities that false markets present!

Sep 20, 2012 at 4:11 PM | Registered CommenterGreen Sand

Derek Walton:
I would have thought that that applied to CCS too.

Quite. I'm no geologist (to put it mildly) but I'd like to ask anyone in a position to make informed comment whether there is a single argument against fracking that doesn't also apply, give or take, to CCS.

My problem is that, while I don't trust those seeking to exploit either technology to be honest about the environmental hazards, I've learned to trust the mainstream environmental lobby a great deal less.

I appreciated the SCEF summary BTW - many thanks.

Sep 20, 2012 at 4:18 PM | Unregistered CommenterDaveB

Andrew Neil seems already to have referred to the debate, in passing, on today's Daily Politics - for a little context begin here. Is that 1.8% of all power produced by wind or by wind and wave combined? In the UK or Scotland only? Neil didn't have time to elucidate but it sounds as if he's been mulling it over.

Sep 20, 2012 at 4:26 PM | Unregistered CommenterRichard Drake

Derek Walton

Haszeldine has a solid and formidible research experience in underground reservoirs, mostly North Sea oil and gas, but seems to have fully swallowed the alarmist case for sequestration around the mid 90's and used his expertise on reservoirs to push CCS ever since. His recommendations on suitability for nuclear waste disposal are probably entirely kosher. Its a shame he's started accepting funding from outfits like WWF (link below) and writing opinion pieces and so on, and serves him right to wave the HSI around and be shown up for not reading it, particularly in front of the author who he knew he would be debating.

Sep 20, 2012 at 4:45 PM | Registered CommenterPharos

I think, to be fair, if people are to be paid a subsidy to be 'in a community that accepts a windfarm nearby' that people who are in communities that accept conventional power stations nearby also ought to paid a subsidy. Maybe if you can see a power station you also should be paid a subsidy, or if you can see an electricity pylon?

Where will it all end? I'm against anything if I can be paid a subsidy to accept it.

Sep 20, 2012 at 4:58 PM | Unregistered CommenterBilly Liar

The only "subsidies" worth offering to the unfortunates who have a wind farm dumped into their neighbourhood are (1) full medical insurance, sufficient to cover full treatment of the ills they'll be suffering from the infrasound while they stay there and (2) large amounts of cash, to offset the considerable drop in value of their homes when they get out. Factor those in and this worthless technology looks even worse than it already does.

Far better to give the whole country "reduced electricity bills" by not subsidising this nonsense in the first place.

Sep 20, 2012 at 5:53 PM | Unregistered CommenterSteve C

Well, I'd give Stuart Haszeldine a plus for admitting he hadn't really read Hockey Stick Illusion. I believe most Warmists would have just lied.

Sep 20, 2012 at 5:59 PM | Unregistered Commenterjorgekafkazar

The guy who wrote Merchants of Depair (I think his name is Zubrin) turns out to be a whizz atomic physicist and has been trying to convince various governments that nuclear waste can be safely disposed of at sea.
Zubrin's method is first to glassify the waste and then to encase it in a "bullet" shaped container made from stainless steel. These bullets can then safely be dropped into deep ocean (away from fault lines and volcanic activity) and lie undisturbed for millions of years. By the time the bullet reaches the soft sediment ocean floor it is travelling quite fast and burries itself.

Sep 20, 2012 at 6:14 PM | Registered CommenterDung

Salt Water Errosion wont really damage the Blades the Shaft and the Base, Quite substantial.
But if Sea Salt gets into the Generator Housing and the Gear Box .Tut Tut.

Apparently in this day and age Wind Turbines have to have Automatic Mechanical Gearbox Tranmission to keep them in Phase with the rest of the Grid.

Sep 20, 2012 at 7:00 PM | Unregistered CommenterJamspid

No doubt The Bishop did extremely well, but I’ve now read Straun Stevenson’s speech

He’s against Salmond’s wind-powered craziness, but he’s for a series of other craziness’s! He’s anti-nuclear power (although quoting its efficiency and low-carboness), pro a ‘hydrogen economy’ and thinks ‘the answer’ is to ‘save’ 75% of housing energy by insulation and triple glazing. Quite how this ‘saves/creates’ Scottish jobs, he doesn’t explain.

He’s confused and conflicted and this is probably brought on by his chairing the “Climate Change, Biodiversity & Sustainable Development Intergroup in the European Parliament”.

So he’s a Tory greenie grandee, who doesn’t like wind-farms. I guess beggars can’t be choosers when looking for anti-windmill allies, but there’s got to be more coherent allies.

Sep 20, 2012 at 7:06 PM | Unregistered CommenterMark P

Haszeldine doen't lose my respect for studing the feasibility of CCS. But he does for promoting fear of a mass extinction.

He says 'As a geologist, I can helpfully add that the rock record of 600 million years tells me that excess carbon dioxide has happened 5 times before - induced by volcanoes, or by continental configurations. Each time the results are strikingly similar - ocean death, extinction, and the top species vanish. That's us... (later on, in the final article punchline)... But waiting brings us all closer to that sixth extinction. We're told we can't afford to build (CCS). But can we afford not to?'

He must know as a geologist that we are in an extended glacial (Quaternary) Era, albeit in a brief interglacial, characterized by perilously low atmospheric CO2 levels for support of a robust and vigorous biological life cycle, quite the reverse of what he implies. Prior to the exceptional Quaternary condition, in terms of the planetary norm, CO2 levels were substantially higher, and biodiversity was routinely prolific. To promote alarmism of mass extinction based on our puny influence is pure and utter mischief IMO.

Sep 20, 2012 at 8:13 PM | Registered CommenterPharos

Pharos asks....
"To promote alarmism of mass extinction based on our puny influence is pure and utter mischief IMO."

When Haszeldine asks the question
"We're told we can't afford to build (CCS). But can we afford not to?"

I find myself wondering how much funding the geology department got before the current AGW scare and the need to investigate CC storage? It's a bontous gravy train.

As I said above, there were a lot of people with vested interests in the room last night.

Sep 20, 2012 at 8:44 PM | Unregistered CommenterNial

Story few years old but If Wind farms not a goer...

Sep 20, 2012 at 8:56 PM | Unregistered CommenterJamspid

Sep 20, 2012 at 8:44 PM | Nial

'I find myself wondering how much funding the geology department got before the current AGW scare and the need to investigate CC storage? It's a bontous gravy train.'

I started studying Geology at Strathclyde University (where Stuart Haszeldine was a lacturer) in September 1985 and the department got a lot of funding then from the oil industry. I remember the doom and gloom that the oil price crash in late '85/'86 caused. I remember talking to a group of students and lecturers and everyone was worried about the situation. I said that I would probably go in to showbiz... I didn"t - I joined a small oil industry consultancy in Glasgow and toughed it out. The department got more into 'green' issues such as CO2 sequestration. I also remember Hansen being a bigh hit with them in 1988 when he made his appearance in the 'hot room' in the US congress or wherever it was.

Sep 21, 2012 at 2:17 AM | Unregistered CommenterJimmy Haigh

Sorry if this puts you off your meals but I am strongly reminded of the phrase "All wind and water" as a description of Diarrhoea.
That it is now synonymous with government energy-policy doesn't make it any more attractive.

Sep 21, 2012 at 2:23 AM | Unregistered CommenterRoyFOMR


Sep 23, 2012 at 3:00 AM | Unregistered CommenterRussell

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