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« BBC still handing free airtime to greens | Main | A few recent headlines »

Hugo's howler, Harrabin's howler

The Spectator doesn't do a great deal on the climate front, but when it does, it does it very well. At the moment they have a long piece (£, but you may get a free look) by David Rose on Judy Curry, which although containing little that will be new to BH readers will be informative for many.

If it's pure entertainment you want, they also have a preview of Paris from Hugo Rifkind (£), a man with a wonderful facility for words, but also one who is just a moderately loud repeater of metroliberal certainties on the state of the climate. His effort this week is rather more thoughtful than usual, but he still retains some odd notions. Observing, quite correctly, that everyone in the UK is backing off green policy, he says that as a country we are starting to look a bit provincial:

Germany’s big push for renewables (which was admittedly predicated on an hysterical and frankly stupid post-Fukushima fear of nuclear) is surging ahead, in precisely the manner that Scotland’s could be if anybody still gave a damn.

This seems strange because according to Wikipedia, renewables as a whole generated just 11% of German energy last year - a strange kind of surging. And the renewables industry are facing a series of reforms to the subsidy regime that is going to make life rather harder for them.

He also seems to think that China is on board with the green cause:

China now worries enormously about CO2 emissions, and doesn’t just pretend to in order to stop Europe shouting so much.

China is famously opening one new coal-fired power station per week, a strategy that would be strange for a nation that was slightly concerned about CO2 emissions, let alone one that was worrying enormously.

But it's when he gets to the new solar power station in Morocco that he really goes off the rails. This facility has been getting greens very excited - see for example Roger Harrabin here - in recent days. Here's Hugo's take:

With far less fanfare, Morocco is opening a vast solar plant next month in its otherwise useless desert, and aims to get 42 per cent of its energy from renewables (far more than us) by 2020.

With weary inevitability this turns out to be complete drivel. Every time a renewable power station is launched, its installed capacity is rapidly transformed into an expected level of power generation. These can easily be different by an order of magnitude, and perhaps by a factor of four for desert-based solar.

A little light Googling reveals that this is precisely what has happened here. The Moroccan government has actually set itself a target of 42% of installed generation capacity being renewables by 2020. So Hugo has made a howler of fairly epic proportions. But he is a wordsmith, and we should therefore be charitable if he struggles with numbers. Roger Harrabin, who is supposed to be a specialist in these areas, did exactly the same thing. There the howler is harder to excuse.

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Reader Comments (58)

Speccy - clear your Speccy cookies (same as the Telegraph) and you'll have free access, until ... you have to clear them again!

Nov 27, 2015 at 11:15 AM | Unregistered CommenterJeremy Poynton

Somewhat off-topic (and probably covered elsewhere here on BH), but I think the recent fanfare over the very high (record?) number of excess UK deaths last winter really needs to be brought up whenever people talk about renewables.

The impact of wind and solar on the price paid by people for their electricity is a significant cause of the reduced living standards of old people. My relatives are turning down their heating to save money - despite all of the adverts on TV telling them that they should be keeping warm in the winter.

These excess deaths are not the imaginary deaths conjured up by the one of the army of acronyms, but real people suffering not just an avoidable premature death, but a pretty horrid last few months struggling to breathe with a respiratory condition while beset by worries over how to pay the bills. I can take a lot of the CAGW clap-trap with a pinch of salt, but the response to this imaginary problem is causing real suffering today.

Nov 27, 2015 at 11:30 AM | Unregistered CommenterRob

Rob, The very high number of excess UK deaths last winter was largely because the flu vaccine was ineffective.
Each year they manufacture a vaccine against the strains of flu that are trending. They obviously need to plan this months in advance.
But last year they guessed the strains wrong. That's what caused the deaths.

I agree that higher heating bills are a threat to the elderly.
But I disagree with the use of 'the number of excess UK deaths last winter' as evidence for that.

Nov 27, 2015 at 4:22 PM | Registered CommenterM Courtney

Roger knows it's 42% of capacity, not actual electricity produced or used as he says yeh but on sunny/windy day it will reach 42% for a moment'.
It's all been played out on Twitter

‏@RHarrabin 6h6 hours ago
@aDissentient @hugorifkind Of course when its windy - as it is typically is in W Morocco - and sunny in the Sahara, Morocco WILL get 42% etc
The idea of 'Wow Morocco having this 42% of it's electricity by 2020' breaks the "too good to be true rule". I can't believe he didn't know his words were misleading when he published them.

Yes it's capacity and Roger forgot to tell us they're 'HEAVILY investing in coal' at the same time.
- Guess what, you're partially paying for the solar project aswell "funding for the consortium will come in part from the World Bank and the European Investment Bank" AP 2013
- On the Ministry of Energy site it uses the word "puissance installée" or capacité on numerous pages
Found using the search : "Ministère de l'Energie" "42%"
e.g. 2014 short report repeating words of a2013 Mininsterial Discussions

Le Maroc a adopté une stratégie énergétique ambitieuse en 2009, basée notamment sur les énergies renouvelables, qui eprésenteront 42% de la puissance installée en 2020, en éveloppant 2000MW d’énergie solaire, 2000MW d’énergie éolienne et 2000MW hydraulique.

Morocco has adopted an ambitious energy strategy in 2009, based on including renewable energy, which will represent 42% of the installed capacity in 2020, developing 2000MW of solar energy,2000MW of wind power and hydraulic 2000MW.

Though to be fair I can imagine a hurried PR guy saying 42% of the production.

This is interesting on page 29 of April 2015 report they say they're HEAVILY investing in coal

Faced with an electricity demand increased by 4 to 6% per year, Morocco is planning in 2020 reaching 42% of its electricity installed capacity in renewable with these new projects and those existing as wind or solar Tarfaya like those of Ouarzazate. All at the same time as going forward with heavy investments in coal plants.
Greenie publication Sci-Am also use the phrase "42 percent of its installed capacity" in their Sept 2015 Report but they call it \\applies a ‘bold risk’ strategy//

BTW Harra's 'clarification' was another stealth edit.
furthermore it's still entirely misleading as it compares
: The apples of Moroccan renewable electricity CAPACITY
vs the oranges of UK renewable electricity actually SUPPLIED

Something else
I figure that the high number for renewable biomass of 9% of all ENERGY in Germany, comes from burning wood logs for heating .isn't that common there ?

Nov 27, 2015 at 4:47 PM | Registered Commenterstewgreen

Betapug mentions Abengoa, which just happens to be going into administration and our old friend Lord Stern is still shown as a member of the advisory board:

Seville, 26 May 2014.- The Focus-Abengoa Foundation today opened the Energy Transition and Climate Change School. Lord Stern gave the opening lecture:

"Lord Stern admitted that he had underestimated the risks of climate change, saying “Emissions are at the limit or above the forecasts that were made, and some forecasts have even occurred earlier than expected, such as artic melting or ocean acidification. Indeed, CO2 levels have risen from 280 parts per million (ppm) in 1800 to 400 ppm today, while there has been a 5ºC rise in temperatures that has not been seen in 30 million years”.

This is the report of the admin filing in the Washington Times:

GWPF had a page ref earlier but looks like it has been taken down. Abengoa's own web page carries the administration message:

Nov 27, 2015 at 5:25 PM | Unregistered Commenterdennisa

There is a serious look at Germany's green image from the unlikely source of Politico,

Some take away points:

"The price of going green keeps rising.

...the total price tag for Energiewende would likely be about €1.1 trillion

Though Germany is the world’s fourth largest economy, it accounts for less than 3 percent of the world’s greenhouse emissions. In other words, Germany alone will have little impact on the trajectory of global warming.

The expansion of renewable energy has already turned much of the country into a large solar and wind park.

Germany’s rural scenery, the inspiration for the Grimm fairytales and the landscape paintings of Germans masters such as Albrecht Dürer, is now a sea of solar panels, the horizon dotted with 200-meter-high turbines, blinking red through the night.

All told, most of Germany’s energy – over 80 percent – still comes from fossil fuels, including oil and gas.

Energy use for transportation is actually increasing, the report found. Meanwhile, efforts to improve the energy efficiency of buildings, the key to reducing heat consumption, have floundered.

Berlin is hoping for a major breakthrough on reducing global emissions at the upcoming Paris climate talks. But it’s own difficulties in meeting its ambitious goals, could complicate the effort."

Meanwhile elsewhere, Politico reports that "In Indonesia, fires in carbon-rich land used for palm oil and paper plantations are releasing more greenhouse gas emissions daily than the entire U.S."

Nov 27, 2015 at 5:37 PM | Registered Commenterdennisa

So what we got
Abengoa the Spanish renewables mafia in coming bankruptcy
built and half own Ivanpah the magic solar plant that actually runs on gas
- The load factrs seems to be 12% in the first year, when 31% was promised
..maybe it got better ? no news good news ?

and in Morocco ACWA the Saudi mult-energy corp are building something similar
We don't know the capacity factor until has run for a while
Harra basically tells the world it's 100%
#1 Harra's customers don't know the sun doesn't shine at night ?
#2 Harra's BS factor is 97%

..Hangon- how are friends over at Hanergy the world's biggest failing solar corp ?
Still not up ..and Ikea has pulled out of selling Hanergy panels.
Jinzhou Bank which heavily lent to Hanergy is going to try to float on Nov30th ...There maybe a shortage of buyers

What about SunEdison ?..fallen by 85% this year Look at the graph down from $31 to $3.20

NRG down from $31 last year to $11.60 now

One time these corps solar were all charged up , now they are having difficulty recharging

Nov 28, 2015 at 6:26 AM | Registered Commenterstewgreen

Update : CSP in Spain achieved high CF of 36% according to Energy matters Blog.
CSP can have much higher Capacity Factor than PV, this is due to the Capacity is actually the capacity of the turbine.
With solar panels the CF of the farm is the same as for the individual panels.
But with CSP you can point 1,000 mirror at one turbine tower and get 15% Capacity Factor
but point twice as many mirrors at the same time then you get almost twice the power and say a CF of 30%.

Did the salt storage work ?..We don't know cos the corp got paid the same rate at night, so it never bothered storing any it just fed it straight into the grid.
But why would you offer a price incentive in practice ?
If you have your gas/coal Energy PARKS rumbling away at $40-$50 per MWh you might in nthe daytime fork out $130 per MWh to get extra electricity from CSP, but come night time you are likely to get a drop in demand so you'd just run on coal/gas.

Dec 2, 2015 at 9:36 AM | Registered Commenterstewgreen

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