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« Cold light of day is earlier than usual | Main | The Lewandowsky concoction »

Greens lining the pockets of farmers

This excerpt is from Farmer's Weekly, (paywalled here).

I’ve been spotted rummaging through the hedges and tracks than border my farm, searching high and low for, would you believe, an electricity substation. It turns out that if you are lucky enough to find one on or near your farm, and it’s over 33kV, you’re blessed: you can now go ‘generator farming’.

On a concrete pad (hmm, carbon footprint?), surrounded by a massive earth bund, an array of diesel-powered (yes, diesel) generators are installed and linked to the grid. Their sole purpose is to switch on and provide back-up power when the national grid is found wanting. They are known as ‘short term operating reserves’, or Stors.

The figures (as supplied by Strutt and Parker) are astonishing. The average Stor will supply 20MW, and so will need 50 400kW generators. The rents are even more mind blowing. The rule of thumb is £1,000-£2,500/MW capacity, so for a 20MW Stor – well, do the sums yourself. The other good news (assuming you yourself don’t live in earshot) is they tend to only work at night – probably something to do with the inherent night-time uselessness of solar farms. And if you do live nearby, fifty grand a year will pay for some serious double-glazing, or even a new house at the far end of the farm.


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Reader Comments (52)

Who can blame him?

Dec 11, 2015 at 3:29 PM | Unregistered CommenterSandyS

This may be a cunning plan that may actually work this time around the sun.

Just think the diesel car market has been booming in euro land for 2+ years now and the British car market for 5years ~

Based on my understanding of current economics this is bankrupting us.
Eventually a economic car quake will release a huge amount of cheap diesel on the market.
These guys will become base load..........
And no I am not kidding.

Do you think the rise of diesel consumption in Ireland (as usual the most extreme example) from 43 kbd to 53 kbd as a result of giant diesel car consumption is sustainable ???.

No production for human consumption came from this act.
Despite the massive jump in energy flux more and more businesses are going bankrupt.
However inefficient these small plants may be the energy can be used locally.
Indeed inefficiency will not matter when oil tanks further.

Dec 11, 2015 at 3:32 PM | Unregistered CommenterThe Dork of Cork

The whole article (wot I wrote) is about the paradox of farmers getting fortunes for wind farms and solar farms, and then being paid handsomely to house generators to back up the faltering supply. And about me being sad to have missed out on Paris, where someone might have explained the paradox to me!! Or not.

Dec 11, 2015 at 3:44 PM | Unregistered CommenterCharlie Flindt

So Charlie, is that you in the picture?

Dec 11, 2015 at 3:49 PM | Unregistered Commenterrhoda

A study in Bankruptcy. ( annual 2000-14 all cars)
Total diesel Irish private car mileage.

Y2000 : 4.4 billion km
Y2014 : 18.3 billion km.

We are now much poorer then we were in Y2000.
So what's the point of it ?

Does this benefit the corner shop.
The village pub.
Its bloody madness .

Dec 11, 2015 at 3:54 PM | Unregistered CommenterThe Dork of Cork

Dear Dork of Cork, please check yor bonnet, there seems to be some sort of hive-dwelling insect therein.

Dec 11, 2015 at 4:07 PM | Unregistered Commenterrhoda

the Bish says

'....probably something to do with the inherent night-time uselessness of solar farms.'

What a reactionary you are. You'll be saying next that wind farms are no good when the wind stops blowing,.

In fact your whole anti science sceptical meme can probably summed up as saying that these renewables provide no power unless exactly the right conditions exist. For shame! Surely you must be aware of the great wisdom of the Govt who obviously know a lot more complicated (and as yet unknown) physics than you do.


Dec 11, 2015 at 4:07 PM | Unregistered Commentertonyb

And they look neat too.

Dec 11, 2015 at 4:11 PM | Unregistered CommenterAlan Reed

The Greens thought diesel fuel could be grown on trees.

Actually the Greens got this correct. They just did not realise how much food production would be ploughed up, to grow diesel trees, and that people would go hungry, because wealthy people could get wealthier growing diesel, not food.

Dec 11, 2015 at 4:13 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

Poor Farmers...
First they had the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP)
Now it seems they may also get the benefit of the Carbon Reduction Agricultural Policy (????)
yup Green CRAP

Dec 11, 2015 at 4:14 PM | Unregistered CommenterPMT

If i was a farmer, I'd so install 1). A Solar Grid array 2) Reserve Generators as mentioned above

Seems easy money if you have the land to do it !

Dec 11, 2015 at 4:14 PM | Unregistered CommenterJustAnotherPoster

In my experience it is virtually impossible to get an LPA to refuse planning permission for a diesel generator farm for STOR. It is "sustainable development", where "sustainable" means anything the Government wants it to mean. A diesel generator farm could emit more CO2/kWh than any other means of generating electricity and the Government will still tell you it is "sustainable". Madness is too mild a word to describe Government energy policy that encourages diesel generator farms.

Dec 11, 2015 at 4:19 PM | Registered CommenterPhillip Bratby

Petrol mile consumption has declined but overall oil miles increased , with me exception.

If you remember during late 2009 British (coal based ) electricity exported energy to nuclear France.
Why not diesel inputs doing the heavy lifting.....

Irish car petrol miles
2000 : 18.7 billion km
2007 : 23.4 Billion km (peak)
2014 : 16.6 billion km

Irish total oil miles
2000 : 23 billion km
2008 : 32.1billion km
2009 : 31.6 billion km
2010 : 31.3 billion km (trough)
2014 : 34.9 billion km

Notice the decline in 2009 and 2010.
This was a return of Irish purchasing power albeit highly unbalanced within the community.
In Nov 2010 we had a bailout of the consumer war (car and aviation) economy , again destroying local trade.
Both 2007 and 2015 will have a total transport TFC of 43 %
In 1990 it was 27 % ~
finance capital efficiency is a illusion , the surplus energy simply gets vented on non human consumption.

Dec 11, 2015 at 4:22 PM | Unregistered CommenterThe Dork of Cork

JustAnotherPoster, you would make more profit if you installed a fake solar farm with useless panels, plus backup reliable diesel generators. With clever switching, you could claim to have generated whichever sort of electricity is most profitable for the time of day/night/year.

Suggestions that this type of maximisation are already very remunerative, are very true, allegedly.

Dec 11, 2015 at 4:27 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

Now I'm not one to comment on the Irishness of the preceding post, but reporting total mile sin km seems somehow fitting.

Dec 11, 2015 at 4:29 PM | Unregistered Commentersteveta_uk

Perhaps perhaps.
But I am observing the problem from a position of surplus rather then scarcity.

If diesel was scarce then travelling billions of miles in millions of cars would simply not happen.
The object of my economic policy is to maximise beer consumption, not useless production.

Think of me as the Irish character actor (his name escapes me) that appears in Reggie Perrins grot management team.
I hold these dangerously effective ideas but I have let the plans in the pub.

Dec 11, 2015 at 5:19 PM | Unregistered CommenterThe Dork of Cork

Hard thought it may be to believe, I am even more gorgeous that the man at the top.

Dec 11, 2015 at 5:43 PM | Unregistered CommenterCharlie Flindt

A interesting life trajectory.
To watch Archibald Chesterfields the thirds fall from 1980s loads of money lifestyle to unemployed observer of the human condition has been a privilege to watch.
The above vid from 2013.

The modern Toad of the internet age.

Dec 11, 2015 at 5:46 PM | Unregistered CommenterThe Dork of Cork

Git orf moi power station!

Dec 11, 2015 at 5:47 PM | Unregistered CommenterRudolph Hucker

Two years later Archie observations of Brisbane working / driving drones who like to do green Sundays.........

A classic in my humble opinion.

Dec 11, 2015 at 6:11 PM | Unregistered CommenterThe Dork of Cork

I was reading this and listening to Radio 4 when Feedback came on and it started off with a listener's complaint that Roger Harrabin had not been brought on to explain that the Cumbrian flooding is due to CO2 caused Climate Change.

When I got back up off the floor I heard him being interviewed and squirming that there just might no be a complete connection. Must be the first time he hasn't done the full blame game but who are these eejits who want more of him?

Dec 11, 2015 at 6:30 PM | Unregistered Commenterphilhippos

I thought that must be Charlie Flindt. The humour is recognisable and always a delight.

Dec 11, 2015 at 6:51 PM | Unregistered Commentermike fowle

Old MacDonald had a farm, € - I - € - Oh!

Dec 11, 2015 at 6:57 PM | Unregistered CommenterMartin A

A study in the tight distribution network with little capitalistic friction.
Be it medieval industrial textile Florence or Cork agri / drink industry within living memory the defining characteristic of both is a low transport input relative to TFC.
Indeed Beamish truck or horse drivers drank the product in each pub they delivered !!!!

A happy but short life.........

Dec 11, 2015 at 7:14 PM | Unregistered CommenterThe Dork of Cork

You're a very nice man, Mike Fowle.

(anyone got a clue what the Dork is on about....or on?)

Dec 11, 2015 at 7:51 PM | Unregistered CommenterCharlie Flindt

How soon before STOR diesel units becomes a story line on BBC's longest running radio soap, "The Archers"?

Dec 11, 2015 at 7:54 PM | Unregistered Commenterrotationalfinestructure


Perhaps when the Beeb is finally (hopefully) cut off from the Public teat, they can get the green blob to sponsor the programme and the whole of Ambridge can be turned over to windmills, solar panels, STORs and tofu production.

Dec 11, 2015 at 8:12 PM | Registered CommenterSalopian

Ask anybody who's been to Lagos , Nigeria what they think of this and be prepared for the air to turn blue!

Dec 11, 2015 at 8:36 PM | Registered Commentertomo

I suppose you can grow your own "diesel" too. Will rape oil do?

And you could use the waste heat from the engines to heat your plastic greenhouses, and the exhaust gas to enrich their atmospheres with CO2. Oh the plants will grow well. I wonder whether you could grow oil palms that way? More fuel!!

Dec 11, 2015 at 9:22 PM | Unregistered Commenterdearieme


Most multifuel/diesel engines will run quite happily on rapeseed oil. But given that cold-pressed rapeseed oil is the now the foodies preferred alternative to extra virgin olive oil; if you are planning on growing rapeseed, you'd be better off selling it as such and using the profits to buy your diesel/petrol/heating oil.

Dec 11, 2015 at 10:09 PM | Registered CommenterSalopian

Salopian, I am waiting for the ecosnobs to say that their expensive German diesel car runs so much better on extra virgin olive oil. This will renew interest in marketing any oil as extra virgin olive oil, and demand for fraudulent activity will increase in countries like Portugal, Italy, Greece and Spain. PIGS need some fresh EU scams to bolster their economies.

Dec 11, 2015 at 10:37 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

GC; Unfortunately, the EU's olive trees are under attack from a 'new' disease (that, allegedly, also affects citrus trees and grape vines).

No doubt the good old European Commission will soon announce punitive taxes on rapeseed growers to compensate the olive, citrus and grape growers in the PIGS countries

Dec 12, 2015 at 12:04 AM | Registered CommenterSalopian

Salopian, if the BBC are reporting EU concerns about olive trees being under attack, this sounds as though the cultivation and fertilisation of an olive oil shortage/crisis has already started.

The Grauniad will lead on Peak Olive Oil, though most will shorten it to POO.

Syrian refugees will head for Greek Islands, safe in the knowledge that most traditional olive groves have long since been abandoned as uneconomic, and olives can be harvested just yards from the beach.

Portugal Italy Greece and Spain are not known for their reserves of crude oil, but Special Reserve, Extra Virgin Olive Oil, will be the fuel of choice for white van drivers in Islington, so they don't incur the wrath of stroppy Labour MP's.

Who needs bottled water with exotic names, when any discarded chip fat can be sold as a premium product, and be a fashion accessory in any handbag or fuel tank?

Dec 12, 2015 at 12:34 AM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

Fair is fair.

Dec 12, 2015 at 8:29 AM | Unregistered CommenterAila

Oh ye advocates of renewable energy,
yer not often right but yr wrong again.
Historical data re the extraordinary
popular delusions and madness of
crowds is exemplified right now
before our very eyes.

Dec 12, 2015 at 9:40 AM | Unregistered CommenterBeth Cooper

The Bishop Hill blog really does attract some luddites. If solar panels are erected on farmland it should be possible to keep them working at night. The farmer simply has to grows cucumbers. This has been known ever since Jonathan Swift wrote Gulliver's Travels!

The first man I saw was of a meagre aspect, with sooty hands and face, his hair and beard long, ragged, and singed in several places. His clothes, shirt, and skin, were all of the same colour. He has been eight years upon a project for extracting sunbeams out of cucumbers, which were to be put in phials hermetically sealed, and let out to warm the air in raw inclement summers. He told me, he did not doubt, that, in eight years more, he should be able to supply the governor's gardens with sunshine, at a reasonable rate: but he complained that his stock was low, and entreated me "to give him something as an encouragement to ingenuity, especially since this had been a very dear season for cucumbers." I made him a small present, for my lord had furnished me with money on purpose, because he knew their practice of begging from all who go to see them.

Dec 12, 2015 at 9:49 AM | Unregistered CommenterRoy


Beginning to appreciate you. You took it too far on the Lew thread though and gave the game away... but u got me, well done! :-)

Dec 12, 2015 at 10:33 AM | Unregistered CommenterWijnand

"Greens lining the pockets of farmers"
This report in the Telegraph discusses a report on the proportion of income charities use for the causes they were set up for.
I followed the link but couldn't see WWF, Greedpeace (sic or sick :-) Friends of the Earth etc who I strongly suspect spend even less than 40% of their income?
Appreciate that this may be off topic,

Dec 12, 2015 at 11:29 AM | Unregistered CommenterStacey

Catch sunbeams, and falling knives, in tulip bulbs.

Dec 12, 2015 at 12:14 PM | Unregistered Commenterkim

Yee guys must come to understand that the oil crisis of the 70s was in reality a capital goods (mainly cars) overproduction crisis.
In the 1950s, 1960s much of the oil was used for electricity generation.
But living space was required for the cars which began to eat more and more of the Industrial surplus.
Now if we return to a 1950s energy balance electricity waste such as streetlighting quiet west of Ireland villages or empty roads is not economic given the massive transformation losses inherent in electricity production with fossil fuels.
Especially post Masstricht streetlighting per head in Ireland is probably the highest per capita in Europe.

Ireland can no longer afford to pay for the massive capex costs of the Corrib gas field etc etc

The dash for gas race in Europe is over.

Energy production must become more simple again.
Be it direct coal burn at home or much lower electricity generation but with oil again a large % of the electricity mix.
The entire European experiment since day 1 was a massive corporate conduit scheme.
Entirely pointless and destructive of society.
The amount of good agricultural land destroyed by roads in Ireland is simply unbelievable.
A Alice in wonderland rabbit economy of saving time units at the expense of Wealth or wellbeing

Even if we return to just a 1990 pre Masstricht energy balance Irish oil consumption will be cut in half.
although we are a small country that's a lot of diesel.
Repeat this for all euro periphery economies and soon you will.......

Dec 12, 2015 at 12:24 PM | Unregistered CommenterThe Dork of Cork

With personal mineral rights those farmers could supply direct shale gas from their fields to Gas Turbine Genarators.

Dec 12, 2015 at 3:00 PM | Unregistered CommenterJamspid

"You would make more profit if you installed a fake solar farm with useless panels"

A farmer friend has two commercial chicken farms, and has been approached several times to have solar panels installed on the large (conveniently angled and orientated) roofs. However he knows my thoughts on the "renewables" scam, and is also wise enough to be aware of just how much dust and feathers get blown out of the ventilation fans at the apex of each shed roof! I would be really interested to know how badly the output of typical farm installations is affected, and whether this is ever mentioned by the installers looking to make a killing... As many of the older sheds are of wooden construction, the structural loading, and difficulty of isolating the panels in the event of a fire is a further concern.

Dec 12, 2015 at 3:24 PM | Unregistered CommenterDave Ward

Very much like the Wizard of Oz--don't look behind the curtain and everything is amazing. And diesel generators not only cost more than baseload coal, they pollute much more too!! A win-win all around if you aim is catastrophe.

Dec 12, 2015 at 3:52 PM | Unregistered CommenterCraig Loehle

Dave Ward, suggest your friend clads the chicken sheds in bits of plastic, wire and tinfoil. Then claim they are a new type of solar panel, and get it all grant funded.

Then rig up large lightweight hamster wheel type treadmills inside the chicken sheds, powered by hens, chasing grains of wheat, to generate some electricity.

The whole installation will be grant funded, the electricity produced can be sold at a handsome profit, and running costs will be chickenfeed. As a bonus you get eggs and chickens to flog off, along with the crap they produce as organic fertiliser.

Dec 12, 2015 at 4:11 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

The fall in bunker fuel (world trade) makes old oil steam turbines competitive again.

Trouble is there is only a few remaining .........

Dec 12, 2015 at 4:35 PM | Unregistered CommenterThe Dork of Cork

How to make a killing on poor Paddy & Mick.

Those two should have remained on their 30 acre farm rather then selling it to young John Jo who had big ideas for Dairy expansion.
Now Paddy and Mick are stuck inside a old council house with no access top eat and wood

Dec 12, 2015 at 4:43 PM | Unregistered CommenterThe Dork of Cork

IEA monthly gas report for December out.
Reporting a massive 40.5 % September drop in nat gas consumption in Australia.
Down 17.5 % in year so far.
My guess ......nat gas turbines being switched off en mass .

High energy prices = euro (energy deficit ) shutdown
Low energy prices = Shutdown of energy surplus countries.

No equilibrium in world markets.
Highly unstable.
Breakdown of world trade system.
More from Archie observing the Oz Gold coast (shithole)

Dec 12, 2015 at 4:59 PM | Unregistered CommenterThe Dork of Cork

Dec 12, 2015 at 5:36 PM | Unregistered CommenterThe Dork of Cork

Not a good deal.
400 kw genset will cost you £50 grand.
20 of em = £1 million.

So, a 5% return.
They better be paying for the fuel and overhauls, but perhaps these don't get many hours on them.

Dec 13, 2015 at 7:13 AM | Unregistered Commentermarkx

Site of the new Irish biomass plant (under construction)
A old synthetic fibre plant.
Geograph Ireland photo 1985.

Finance capitalism goal is to keep prices up.
To engage in wasted effort.
This maintains wealth concentration.
The true goal of finance .

The amount of diesel and bunker fuel used to harvest , process and transport pellets from the States will exceed the energy held within the wood.
They cannot allow the fuel to be burned directly in Europe.

Dec 13, 2015 at 11:13 AM | Unregistered CommenterThe Dork of Cork

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