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Green messages

When I discussed Scotland's energy supply on Radio Scotland a few weeks back, I shared the airwaves with a Green Party spokesman. I pressed him (I forget his name) on how energy was to be generated on cold still nights, and was told that we needed research into energy storage technologies.

That's fair enough, although the obvious corollary is that we are stuck with fossil fuels in the meantime.

It's interesting therefore to see the green movement declaring today that we just don't need any fossil fuel generation at all. This comes in response to the Conservatives' warnings that we risk the lights going out.


SCOTLAND must build new power stations if it wants to keep the lights on beyond 2025, opposition leaders will warn today.

A massive new gas-powered plant could be built at Longannet which looks poised to shut down within the next decade, according to the Conservatives.

But environmental bodies have dismissed the claims, insisting that Scotland can continue to power itself from green sources like wind and hydro.

Clearly the greens know that the lights will go out if the wind fails to blow on a winter's night unless we have conventional generation capacity on hand. It's interesting to ponder then why they persist in telling journalists that we can allow all these power stations to close. And why the journalists don't call them out on it.


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Reader Comments (53)

10.08 current generation WIND 845 MW 1.9% of current demand

Feb 25, 2015 at 10:09 AM | Unregistered CommenterNeil Wilkinson

I realise that the Scottish Greens are a separate party, however they cannot escape from the media car crash yesterday by their English or should I say Australian cousins. The fallback defence today is that they should stick to speaking on what they understand i.e. the environment and attendant issues. It is evident that from this morning's post this cannot be taken for granted either. Some kindly state that the Green parties are idealistic, I'm afraid that the real adjrctive should be ignorant and in some cases dangerous.

Feb 25, 2015 at 10:11 AM | Unregistered Commentertrefjon

"And why the journalists don't call them out on it."

Because ( unfortunately) they are for the greater part in the same ' green-dream boat'.

Feb 25, 2015 at 10:13 AM | Unregistered Commenteroebele bruinsma

"But environmental bodies have dismissed the claims, insisting that Scotland can continue to power itself from green sources like wind and hydro".

When you are dealing with zealots, there is no reasoning with them. Gaia works in mysterious ways! The greenies have no understanding of the science or engineering. Blind faith allows them to make stupid decisions no matter how dangerous because the end justifies the means - they are saving the planet! They will continue no matter the cost to the common man!

"why the journalists don't call them out on it" - well calling them jounalists might be stretching things - e.g. Roger Harrabin: the green parrot. Most "journalists" just regurgitate what ever the greenies tell them. No critical thought is given and clearly they are incapable of understanding the issues. Worse still the BBC uses the licence money to actively promulgate the absolute nonsense that the greenies spew!

Feb 25, 2015 at 10:16 AM | Unregistered CommenterCharmingQuark

Did I ever tell you the story of a couple of our local greenies who refused on principle to run a car but took two buses to shop at Waitrose rather than the supermarket that was less than 100 metres from where they lived?
Being green is itself a form of schizophrenia as far as I can tell. There is what is the right thing to do (as long as you personally don't have to do it) and there is what is the right thing for you to do because you like the comfortable life that being reasonably well-off in the early 21st century entitles you to. (Please note that word "entitles").
They know perfectly well that the lights will go out if we try to rely solely on intermittent energy sources (plus a wee bit of hydro). They also know that really that is just pie in the sky; it's lovely to dream about it and wish it would happen but in reality the electricity that they live by will still come out of the 15-amp socket because nobody ever listens to them and government never takes them seriously anyway so they can just go on dreaming and wishing and pretending.
Until one day somebody does take them seriously and then what?

Feb 25, 2015 at 10:16 AM | Registered CommenterMike Jackson

'how energy was to be generated on cold still nights, and was told that we needed research into energy storage technologies.'

He did NOT answer you. How does one 'store energy' when the turbines ARE NOT GENERATING IT!?!

Feb 25, 2015 at 10:19 AM | Unregistered CommenterOtter (ClimateOtter on Twitter)

Most Greenies know little, if anything, about R&D.

The 'we need research into energy storage technologies' mentality is naive in the extreme. What is needed are breakthroughs in technology and, while it requires 'research', it requires a lot more than that, including a reliable electricity supply!

Ten out of ten for effort, but zero for not expecting anything useful to come out from them.

It is the typical watermelon attitude: they want an equality of outcome, without any understanding of how results are encouraged. As an example, they want 'renewable energy' to have a generating capacity similar, or greater, to carbon/nuclear based fuels, but as to how much each generates for the National Grid is of little concern.

And the LibLabCon parties think it is the way to go!

Feb 25, 2015 at 10:20 AM | Registered CommenterRobert Christopher

I often hear this talk of research into improved storage methods for electricity that is supposed to make wind actually viable. It occurs to me though if this technology did come to fruition couldn't it just as easily be applied to conventional power generation as well?

Power stations could be left just ticking over to maintain a charge in these storage systems without having to ramp up as much (or at all depending on duration) at times of peak demand.

Feb 25, 2015 at 10:24 AM | Unregistered CommenterMoff

Failure to knowingly provide sufficient quantities of energy required to run a nation surely amounts to gross negligence in public office. (That is not the same thing as adopting a policy that differs from others' views) Personal / professional / corporate negligence charges should focus the attention of one or two 'leaders' sharply enough.

Feb 25, 2015 at 10:25 AM | Unregistered Commentercheshirered

Greens haven't got the money for new housing so where they going to find the money for more windmills.

Any one taking bet on who will replace Natalie Bennett

Feb 25, 2015 at 10:32 AM | Unregistered Commenterjamspid

Government policy is to use

sound science responsibly

Obviously the current Government doesn't use sound science responsibly, and neither did the previous one, but having the green blob's hands on power would be a disaster as they don't even understand what science is, let alone sound science, or even using it.

Feb 25, 2015 at 10:33 AM | Registered CommenterPhillip Bratby

"Any one taking bet on who will replace Natalie Bennett"? There are plenty of green nutters in Devon who could replace her perfectly.

Feb 25, 2015 at 10:35 AM | Registered CommenterPhillip Bratby

There are several proven methods of storing large amounts of energy at acceptable cost:
Natural gas
Water at height.

No more research is needed.

Feb 25, 2015 at 10:38 AM | Registered CommenterPhillip Bratby

'Water at height.'

Or, beer. Same principle: what goes up, Must come down...

Feb 25, 2015 at 10:46 AM | Unregistered CommenterOtter (ClimateOtter on Twitter)

oebele bruinsma:

I am sure that some journalists are as delusional as the Greens but I suspect that many more are either ignorant or - and I don't think we should underestimate this - hesitant to step out of line.

How unpopular would a journalist be if they put hard questions to Greens? The accusations of being a tool of big business, against any and all environmental concerns and just being an all round ******* would come thick and fast. And that's just from people in the same newsroom.

The Greens have managed to pretty much position themselves as a fluffy kitten party despite all the evidence to the contrary. A journalist perceived as hammering them would be as popular as a sceptical climate scientist.

Feb 25, 2015 at 10:52 AM | Unregistered Commenterartwest

Lots of debate/discussion about wind power generation, but have you noticed that there is little debate about whether society should have or not have reliable and continuous "on-demand" power.

I truly believe there is a larger-than-we-think segment of society who would rather have occasional power outages than have power generated by anything other than renewable (wind, wave, solar, tidal, etc.). They have fond memories, I suspect, of the 1970's when this happened. Their version of history is how much better life was in era before electricity.

Not something I want or advocate, but I'm aware of those who do. There is a logical disconnect between non-constant power and if or if not it should be generated all the time.

Feb 25, 2015 at 11:01 AM | Unregistered Commenterrms

I suggest a demonstration project. Install wind and solar energy systems for one or more homes. Allow no connection to the grid. See how it works out.

Call their bluff.

But. But. But ...

Feb 25, 2015 at 11:02 AM | Unregistered CommenterSpeed

Shouldn't it be bets on WHEN Natalie Bennett is replaced?

Feb 25, 2015 at 11:07 AM | Registered Commenterdavidchappell

" ...water at height...

Many years ago I lived in Argyll and had an 'interesting' debate with a greenie. The ultimate stupidity was his statement that since 'we had the Cruachan Hydro-electric dam, that our area would always have electricity'.

He was completely ignorant of the fact that Cruachan relies on excess electricity during the night to pump the water up the mountain for it to flow flow down and generate electricity during the day.

Someone in the audience started to sing, "The grand old Duke of York..." The meeting ended in joyous uproar

Feb 25, 2015 at 11:08 AM | Unregistered CommenterJohn de Melle

"10.08 current generation WIND 845 MW 1.9% of current demand"

Feb 25, 2015 at 10:09 AM | Unregistered CommenterNeil Wilkinson

As I'm beginning to see on other blogs, notably the DT, the believers in wind are now claiming that 50% of wind is un-metered and therefore does not show up on Gridwatch etc. therefore you have to double whatever the reading is telling you. Palm/face.

Feb 25, 2015 at 11:08 AM | Registered CommenterHarry Passfield

I think remarks about Natali Bennet are unfair. She demonstrated the Green party's full knowledge of economics, common sense, practicality, brainlessness etc

Feb 25, 2015 at 11:18 AM | Unregistered CommenterGolf Charlie

A while ago I wrote a small program to simulate how well (or badly) energy storage could work with renewables. It uses Gridwatch data. You can specify, how much more wind capacity and Dinorwig sized pumped storage you want to build and simulates, how well it would have kept the lights on.

Executable available here:

Feb 25, 2015 at 11:24 AM | Unregistered CommenterJarto

@ Harry Passfield

"50% of wind is un-metered and therefore does not show up on Gridwatch etc."

The response "So it's therefore not available to you" usually shuts-up the windies.

"... therefore you have to double whatever the reading is telling you." No, it is 'another 50%', so they should to add 50% to whatever the reading indicates.

Feb 25, 2015 at 11:27 AM | Unregistered CommenterJoe Public

At least she was honest enough to state her brain didn't work properley.

This is a state of mind that many Greens are born with, and others have to work hard to achieve.

The Green party assumes the electorate has already reached similar depths of (un)consciousness.

Feb 25, 2015 at 11:28 AM | Unregistered CommenterGolf Charlie

A bit more info about the Gridwatch simulator. Documentation is available where the source is:

Feb 25, 2015 at 11:40 AM | Unregistered CommenterJarto

The Green party's expert on big sums, has advised Natalie, that billions are like millions, with 'b's in. As bees make honey, they are more healthy, and don't damage the environment.

Borrowing billions of debt, with 3 bees, is a good thing, accompanied by bee(r)s. This is Green party beeconomic policy, in a wholegrain nutshell.

Feb 25, 2015 at 11:45 AM | Unregistered CommenterGolf Charlie

Anyone watch the last episode of "Planet Oil" last night? Fairly predictable BBC - realistic about improved oil extraction technology, shale, "plenty of oil left in the ground" - then descended rapidly into CO2 hysteria.

But an interesting segment on Norway's Halden thorium reactor (especially the tiny cube of material that "represented enough energy to power a household for one year"), but "could take decades" to get clearance for real deployment. Given all the nonsense that followed (time running out, promo slot for Shell's Goldeneye CCS scheme, angry climate protestors, etc), the obvious (unasked) question remained: why not push much harder for thorium?

Feb 25, 2015 at 11:48 AM | Unregistered CommenterSensorman

Joe Public: Please accept (I'm sure you did) that I was quoting what idiot, numerically-challenged greenies were saying in a blog. :-)

Feb 25, 2015 at 11:49 AM | Registered CommenterHarry Passfield

"we needed research into energy storage"

Which no-one is doing, of course, because only a Green would think of it..!

Feb 25, 2015 at 11:57 AM | Registered Commenterjamesp

Recently I heard a Radio 5 Live presenter purring with happiness when reporting live from the National grid control centre that 20% of the current demand was being generated by wind. This was at around 6am on what must have been a windy night.

Later at around 8am he reported the percentages again, coal, gas, nuclear, but for some reason did not state the percentage from wind.

Feb 25, 2015 at 11:58 AM | Unregistered CommenterMikky

3 months away from 2015 General Election and the Green Manifesto is already unraveling.

10 years away from Blade less wind Turbines (30 % more efficient, but still ugly, dont kill birds already exist but have intellectual property rights issues and power storage obviously )

15 years away from Grafphine Batteries viable domestic applications only.The everlasting Tablet, Phone ,TV Remote Control.

20 years away from a 10,000 present day average mileage range annual super charge with its contract service MOT electric saloon car.No more queuing at Tescos for Petrol.

20 years away from Graphine solar panels.Still cant use them in the developing world or in the deserts no fresh water to clean them ,only use for portable applications.

20 years away from Thorium Reactors

20 years away Shale in the UK grudgingly (retire off the present Tory Grandee / Labour Hippy Lefty Old Guard)

35 years away from Fusion Reactors

35 years away from Super conducting cables and Inductors (motors generators transformers )

40 years away from Superconducting Micro Processors ,"Skynet Terminator Technology"Robot soldiers still in Iraq and Robot Butlers in every home.

40 years away end of Climate Change dogma, panic, hype .Global Warming is just Baby Boomer Angst gotta wait for all the Baby Boomers to all die off.Unfortunately Jugged eared Prince Charles will be 100 year old King.

100 years away there will still be a temperature pause.

Feb 25, 2015 at 12:13 PM | Unregistered Commenterjamspid

Well we don't really need to do the research because we already know we have to either push water uphill or compress air underground. What are needed are a) the money to build such facilities and b) suitable places to put them.

Feb 25, 2015 at 12:36 PM | Unregistered CommenterJamesG

"compress air underground"

What - use the earth like a giant balloon? What could go wrong... :-)

Feb 25, 2015 at 12:41 PM | Registered Commenterjamesp

Both Natalie Bennett's energy policies and her housing policies are realistic. Wind turbines could be redesigned so that they are shaped a bit more like old fashioned windmills. Then there would be room for people to live inside the base. If we constructed enough windmills to supply all our energy needs then, using this new (or new/old) design we would also have enough accommodation for the whole population plus millions of new immigrants.


Feb 25, 2015 at 12:46 PM | Unregistered CommenterRoy

An opinion on wind power from the 19th century:

The Coal Question: An Inquiry Concerning the Progress of the Nation, and the Probable Exhaustion of Our Coal-Mines
Author: William Stanley Jevons, Edition Used: London: Macmillan and Co., 1866. (Second edition, revised) First Published: 1865

"The first great requisite of motive power is, that it shall be wholly at our command, to be exerted when and where and in what degree we desire. The wind, for instance, as a direct motive power, is wholly inapplicable to a system of machine labour, for during a calm season the whole business of the country would be thrown out of gear. Before the era of steam-engines; windmills were tried for draining mines; "but though they were powerful machines, they were very irregular, so that in a long tract of calm weather the mines were drowned, and all the workmen thrown idle.

An ordinary windmill has the power of about thirty-four men, or at most, seven horses. Many ordinary factories would therefore require ten windmills to drive them; and the great Dowlais Ironworks, employing a total engine power of 7,308 horses, would require no less than 1,000 large windmills!

Coal contains light and heat bottled up in the earth, as Stephenson said, for tens of thousands of years, and now again brought forth and made to work for human purposes."

One thing has always puzzled me, how will they ever make more wind turbines from wind turbines?

Feb 25, 2015 at 12:54 PM | Registered Commenterdennisa

Well you can use pipes too now:

.....should be cheaper and easier to locate.

Feb 25, 2015 at 1:11 PM | Unregistered CommenterJamesG


"Install wind and solar energy systems for one or more homes. Allow no connection to the grid."

Or just sign up with Dale Vince's outfit...

It will still be the same stuff coming out the sockets, of course...

Feb 25, 2015 at 1:29 PM | Registered Commenterjamesp

Re energy storage...

I've seen a figure that states that all the batteries in the world would run the planet's electricity demand for ten minutes...

Hmmm... 'more research needed'.... yeah - just a bit..!

Feb 25, 2015 at 2:07 PM | Unregistered Commentersherlock1

Couldn't each wind turbine be modified, so that when the wind was not doing anything useful, it could operate like a giant treadmill? Powered of course by Green Luvvies who have never before, done anything useful.

Feb 25, 2015 at 2:26 PM | Unregistered CommenterGolf Charlie

The unmetered wind energy point is rather more subtle than appears at first blush. Being unmetered, it does not appear in the demand side of the equation. Consider a windy day providing 10 Gw metered and a further 5 Gw unmetered. Now let the wind drop so all wind generation drops to zero. This results in a an immediate extra demand from convential sources of 15Gw (10 to replace the metered generation and a further 5 to replace the unmetered). There is therefore a requirement
for more spinning reserve.

Feb 25, 2015 at 2:52 PM | Unregistered CommenterRonaldo

Do not take for granted that they know the lights will go out if you shut down coal. Statements about switching to green energy are based on magical thinking. Like people who eat meat but condemn hunters or eat fish and condemn fishing. Like people who want to increase government infinitely (think Greece) but think there is no cost to it, as if gov $ was free. As if the fact that elec storage sometime maybe in the future being possible makes it possible now.

Feb 25, 2015 at 3:41 PM | Unregistered CommenterCraig Loehle

jamespid, Green manifesto unravelling

James, please be aware that whilst it may be unravelling, this is not the end.

The manifesto was written on handknitted natural tofu, and, unravelling is a sure sign it is ready to eat, or recycle.

Feb 25, 2015 at 4:03 PM | Unregistered CommenterGolf Charlie


There was a trial done recently where solar power alone was used. When the sun didn't shine the recipient of the would-be solar power instigated an emergency procedure drastically shutting off any unnecessary power consumption. A lot of people were surprised especially in the media on seeing just how fickle solar power can be, even in optimum conditions. And it was a bit of a shock seeing how lifeless technology becomes when power is severely rationed.

The trial was called Rosetta

Feb 25, 2015 at 4:35 PM | Unregistered CommenterMicky H Corbett

"...Statements about switching to green energy are based on magical thinking." --Craig Loehle

ALL leftist thinking is magical at its core.

Feb 25, 2015 at 5:24 PM | Unregistered Commenterjorgekafkazar

I think the thing they are not telling is that when there is no wind power generated in Scotland they will import the required power to keep the lights on from England. That way they can keep their green ideals intact.

The big problem with that is England does not have enough excess power available from conventional generators especially with part of Drax power station now running on much less efficient wood chips.

Feb 25, 2015 at 6:14 PM | Unregistered Commenterivan

The French have it licked. 70% Nuclear generation. How Green is that?

Feb 25, 2015 at 6:58 PM | Unregistered CommenterFred J

I knew this reminded me of something...

"we have these things called storage units..."

Feb 25, 2015 at 7:19 PM | Unregistered CommenterClovis Marcus

Feb 25, 2015 at 4:35 PM | Micky H Corbett

Here's an actual example of a 'zero emission' facility, the Princess Elisabeth Antarctic Station on Utsteinen Ridge in Queen Maud Land. Of course, none of the vehicles used by the Station are 'zero emission' and there is plenty of diesel fuel and bottled gas about the place for powering/heating local expeditions.

Nevertheless, an interesting glimpse into a 'zero emissions' future where:

When a user requests energy, he/she has to push a switch located next to the power socket and wait for the system to check for energy availability. If energy can be delivered according to the system's priorities, the switch turns green, if not, the switch remains red and the user has to wait.

Feb 25, 2015 at 10:04 PM | Unregistered CommenterBilly Liar

I forgot to mention the obvious. The Princess Elisabeth Antarctic Station is not manned in winter.

Feb 25, 2015 at 10:06 PM | Unregistered CommenterBilly Liar

Misanthropes. Deceivers. Frauds. Charlatans. All that and more are what the so-called greens have devolved to.

Feb 26, 2015 at 1:51 AM | Unregistered Commenterhunter

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