Numbskull or nefarious?
Oct 28, 2014
Bishop Hill in BBC, Energy: grid, Greens

Still on the subject of the National Grid report, Nicky Campbell on Radio Five Live interviewed Jeremy Nicholson of the Energy Intensive Users Group and Sally Uren, the CEO of Forum for the Future. This was a remarkable segment in more than one way (audio below).

The thing that has struck commenters here at BH was something Ms Uren said about the reliability of renewables. Accepting that the wind sometimes doesn't blow and the sun sometimes doesn't shine, she said:

...that's not a worry when we're thinking about security of supply from renewables because we have these things called "storage units" and so we have this grid that allows us to store energy and deal with peaks and troughs in demand and so this notion that when the sun stops shining and the wind stops blowing so does our energy, it's just not true.

This, not to put too fine a point on it, is about as far from the truth as it's possible to get.

Meanwhile, I was also intrigued by Nicky Campbell's decision as the interview neared its end to give the final twenty seconds to Ms Uren. He had been timing it, he said, and this would even things up. I was surprised by this since I'd never heard of interviewers timing things to ensure that both interviewees got equal time at the microphone. Moreover, Ms Uren had been first to speak and I had also got the impression that they'd both had a fair crack at the whip over the piece.

The exact balance between interviewee time is not normally get worked up about, but since Campbell had raised it, I decided to time the various segments myself. Here are the results:

NoName Start End Time
1 SU 01:28 03:00 01:32
2 JN 03:00 04:04 01:04
3 SU 04:04 04:35 00:31
4 JN 04:35 05:22 00:47
5 SU 05:22 05:58 00:36
6 JN 05:58 06:35 00:37
7 SU 06:35 07:20 00:45


By my reckoning, after segment 6, when Nicky Campbell made his intervention, Sally Uren had had 2 min 39 sec and Jeremy Nicholson had had 2 min 28 sec. With the extra bit at the end, the division was roughly 60% for the green and 40% for the man from industry. My timings allocated Campbell's question to the two interviewees, so it's possible that he's doing it a different way, but it doesn't smell quite right to me.


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