France and Germany: Electricity and Emissions

There is a question at the bottom of this post - maybe you have an answer.

The vast majority of French electricity is generated from from nuclear and hydro-electricity. There are only residual amounts of electricity generated from fossil fuels.

You can see live data on French electrical generation Here At GridWatch. Below is a snapshot taken today.

In the snap shot, along with coal at 0.01GW (0.02%) France is using gas to generate 0.68 GW (1.4%) and Oil 0.13GW (0.27%)

So in France electrical generation from fossil fuels account for less than 2% of production.

But how does this relate to emissions?

For simplicity I'll leave out the real nasties like Sulphur Dioxide and Nitrous Oxide and just deal with Carbon Dioxide. When we compare these figures with Germany (see below) the real nasties would be just about in the same in country to country proportion as the Carbon Dioxide.

From The EIA FAQs here (and a little bit of maths) we know that electricity generated from coal produces about one Tonne of Carbon Dioxide for every MWh of electricity.

Over the day, from burning coal to make electricity, France dumps 10 x 1 x 24 Tonnes of Carbon Dioxide into the atmosphere. Or 240 Tonnes

From gas (550Kg/MWh) they dump 670 x 0.550 x 24 or 8844 Tonnes.

Finally today oil (816Kg/MWh) will dump 130 x 0.816 x 24 or 2545 Tonnes.

In total today, from producing electricity from fossil fuels, France will dump 11629 Tonnes of Carbon Dioxide into the atmosphere. So say: 12000 Tonnes max.

Now let us look at Germany. To reduce emissions and do away with its nuclear fleet, Germany has invested hugely in a plethora of wind turbines and solar panels. But its generation is still dominated by coal, with no real prospect of any significant reduction.

The German daily generation data is presented as a graph and the live graph can be found Fraunhofer interactive chart here. A snapshot is below

First of all, notice that Germany is actually using the dirtiest fuel known to man as base load (thats lignite or brown coal). Also its remaining nuclear fleet still adds about 9 GW.

Useage of coal and lignite averages out over the day at around 31GW. Gas averages out at about 2GW.

Although Lignite is significantly more polluting than hard coal I'll treat it all as hard coal for simplicity. Although Oil use is significantly above that in France we'll ignore it as it gets buried in the rounding as the rest of Germany's fossils fuel numbers are so large.

31GW of coal generation will over the day, produce 31,000 x 1 x 24 or 744,000 MWh and will dump 744,000 Tonnes of Carbon Dioxide into the atmosphere. Gas produces 2000 x 0.55 x 24 = 26,400 Tonnes of Carbon Dioxide. So say 750,000 Tonnes of Carbon Dioxide in total.

So, today in the real world, Electrical generation in Germany will dump somewhere around (750000/12000) 62 times more Carbon Dioxide into the atmosphere than Nuclear France.

Of course, Germany 82.5M has a larger population than France (64.5M) So per capita the
emissions ratio is less, at about 50:1

But just think on that.

In Energiewende obsessed Germany, every time an electric kettle is boiled to make a cup of coffee, 50 times as much Carbon Dioxide is released as when a kettle is boiled in nuclear France.

So tell me, who has the more valid solution to the emissions problem?

Navitus Bay Adopt Worst Case Turbine Option

Navitus Bay Development Ltd (NBDL) is the company planning a huge offshore wind-farm sitting directly off the UNESCO World heritage Jurassic Coast and the nearby Bournemouth beaches. 

The planning application is still going through the planning process but NBDL (arrogant as ever) have already ordered the turbines. The turbines they have ordered are the largest within their application. Vestas VT164 turbines. 200m high with a rotor diameter of 170m.

NBDL have ordered 121 of these monsters even though these turbines will maximize visual impact on just about the whole of this coast. This is not just my opinion. It is the opinion of paid NBDL consultants and even NBDL themselves.

There are a number of documents submitted by Navitus to the planning inspectorate that describe the relative impact of these monster turbines on the environment. 

I expect that there are those who are hoping that these documents have been buried in the mountain of planning bureaucracy surrounding this application. But sadly for them at least two of the documents have popped up again. I detail some of the findings from these two below. 

The abbreviation used both by NBDL and their consultants to describe the worst visual impact option is RWCS. That stands for “Realistic Worst Case Scenario” 

Remember, what you read below are not my words. Nor are they the words of any of the many organisations and individuals who oppose this travesty. 

They are the words of paid NBDL consultants and NBDL themselves.

First let us first look at a document paid for by NBDL and commissioned from LDA Design Consulting LLP. It deals specifically with visual impact from the various turbine options.

The document forms an early part of NBDL's planning application and  is available on the planning inspectorate portal via the following link:

This document presents a summary of RWCS in a table (Wireframe Summary Table ) on page 20 (pdf page 23) 

Of the eleven view points shown in the table, six of them including Bournemouth beach, Sandbanks, Durlston Head (and so the Jurassic Coast) and Milford  have VT164 turbines as the RWCS (Realistic Worst Case Scenario).

The quotes regarding these six view points from the NBDL consultants document are detailed below. They are  taken verbatim from the summary for each viewpoint:

Remember RWCS: – Realistic Worst Case Scenario.

Durlston Head
Due to the closer proximity of this viewpoint, it is easier to distinguish between the heights of turbines than the density of turbines. It is considered that the 8MW layout is the RWCS for this viewpoint.

The statement for this viewpoint driving this conclusion about 8MW turbines states the following:
The turbines appear noticeably taller than in other layouts.

Sandbanks Beach
Additional height of the 8MW turbines, especially in proximity to neighbouring landform, suggests the 8MW layout to be the RWCS from this viewpoint.

The statement for this viewpoint driving this conclusion about 8MW turbines states the following:
Turbines are relatively clustered and irregular;the additional turbine height is visible.

West Cliff, Bournemouth
The additional height of the turbines and the lack of visual consistency leads to the conclusion that the 8MW layout is the RWCS for this viewpoint.

The statement for this viewpoint driving this conclusion about 8MW turbines states the following:
Turbines are relatively dense and irregular. The additional turbine height is judged perceptible

Milford Promenade
The additional height of the 8MW turbines is particularly noticeable due to the proximity of the Needles as a visual reference point. It is considered that the 8MW layout is the RWCS for this viewpoint.

The statement for this viewpoint driving this conclusion for 8MW turbines states the following:
Particularly dense along much of the horizon, turbines broken into sections, additional height perceptible

The Needles, Isle of Wight
Difficult to differentiate between the layouts but marginal leaning towards the 8MW layout
on account of perceived greater depth and greater proportion of turbine extending above the horizon line.

The statement for this viewpoint driving this conclusion for 8MW turbines states the following:
Increased turbine height registers. Layout appears more chaotic.

St. Aldhelm's Head
Overall, there are few meaningful differences between the layouts from this viewpoint but site work suggests a leaning towards the 8MW layout.

Then, showing they have taken this fully on-board, we have references to visual RWCS within later NBDL submission documents.  As an example take this document published in January 2015. It concerns the so-called mitigation option.

Section 15.2.3
[quote] had been judged appropriate to identify the fewest, tallest turbines as the RWCS. There is no reason to deviate from this given the reduced variation in turbine numbers for the Mitigation Option.

Section 15.2.7
Experience derived from many other offshore wind developments and feasibility studies has also confirmed that it is turbine height rather than turbine numbers that most usually determines the RWCS ….

Clearly, even by the developers own analysis the visual impact of VT164 turbines on just about the whole of this coast equates to the worst possible option. To be fair all the options are pretty horrendous. But even so, the chosen option judged by the developers own documentation  is the worst and most destructive.

But one hundred and twenty one of these coast-line scarring monsters is cheaper for the developer than one hundred and ninety or so of the their ugly, shorter cousins. So a greedy foreign multinational might well consider cutting costs at the expense of the local environment a "good idea".

The arrogance, the willful desecration and the mindless pseudo-science that defines this travesty has yet to meet a match anywhere within the planning process.

It is not that they don't understand the damage this scheme will impose.

It is more like they just don't give a damn.

A General Election? Or a Lottery?

The General Election tomorrow promises to be the closest and probably unfairest election in recent UK history.

Tomorrow we may well see the SNP with about 5% of the UK national vote return 40 - 50 MPs while UKIP with 15% will return 2 or 3.

The Greens will get a national vote share of about 5% will return just one MP. Meanwhile the Lib-Dems with their 5-8% will return anything up to 30.

To emphasise how bizarre, awful and anti-democratic this all is, be aware that the single Green MP may well only get elected after fluking it with support of only 31% of the Brighton electorate (like she did in the last election).

But without that fluke the Greens with their 5% would have no representation at all.

Meanwhile Labour expect to maintain their tribal vote in the North while the Conservatives will expect to maintain their tribal vote in the South

Most of this gross unfairness is down to the rubbish voting system we use. The First Past the Post (FPTP) voting system is both prone to fraud and can easily return an unfair result.

The FPTP voting system strongly favours tribal voting. That's why Labour and the Conservative love it.

That's why five years ago both Labour and Conservative unleashed a wave of fear-mongering to get the referendum on proportional representation rejected. That coupled with an incompetent campaign run by the Lib-Dems led us to voting against reform. (Seriously, who put the Lib-Dems in charge?)

Because we now have many parties with significant (4% or more) support, tomorrow will be more like a lottery than a fair and democratic election. All thanks to FPTP.

So tomorrow, why not just vote for who you believe in?

True, you can try and be clever and second guess a secret ballot by voting tactically.

But really the chances are you'll either guess it wrong or it won't make any difference anyway. You will also disguise your true opinions.

Stay true to your principles.

Of course this travesty of an election is not a one off. First Past the Post has failed us many, many times in the past.

But there is one thing worse than voting in a FPTP election. That is NOT voting at all.

Below are the three biggest FPTP howlers. No prizes for spotting the unfairness.

The Devils Mark and the UKIP Witch.

As the General Election approaches we watch a comedic and vacuous contest between the main parties as they attempt to variously bribe, frighten or deceive the electorate into electing them.

The major parties need bogeymen. So whether it's the SNP, Plaid Cymru, UKIP or the Greens, you can bet the spin doctors are working overtime vilifying those who threaten their traditional voting base.

Generally the pompous self serving propaganda is more high farce than high politics.

But even so, a special and vile black propaganda is reserved for “racist” UKIP. While the other minor parties are disliked, UKIP is despised - and feared. Probably because it offers the biggest immediate threat to the status quo.

Racist. What a word!

A vile word speaking of Eugenics, pseudo science and demonic bigotry.

A word that today, is chanted, screamed and spat out. A vile word currently aimed at generally decent and politically virginal folk. Folk who generally wouldn't know how to be racist if they tried.

It is the modern day equivalent of the 17th century Witch-Finder judgement of Witch! Witch! Witch!

A word of hate screamed with the aim of subjugating opposition and silencing dissent.

Most of the supporters of UKIP are blue collar working people. Folk who feel impelled to support UKIP because they feel disenfranchised by the ruling metropolitan elites. In some ways UKIP support is a mirror of the way working class Scots have rallied behind the SNP and abandoned a complacent, tired and irrelevant Scottish Labour Party.

But Racist!

The word racist, by such gross misrepresentation, loses its meaning. It is now a word that has become the property of anti-democratic bigots all the way from the upholstered boardrooms at the BBC down through to the vile spiteful losers that inhabit the sewer like recesses of the extreme left.

But the word racist screamed out by a hate filled zealot and aimed at a decent, kind and moral 80 year old pensioner is of course, still sadly undeniable. Just as terrified young girls in the 17th century found that being tortured and then declared a witch was undeniable as well.

In the 17th century a woman accused of witchcraft would be “Pricked”. Pricking involved drawing blood with a needle. If a place was found that either didn't bleed or had maybe become numb from the torment then the woman bore the “Devils Mark” and was clearly a witch.

It was a pathetically stupid way of determining guilt for a non crime.

Today's equivalent of pricking is the continual hostile interrogation. The perpetual attempts to put words into people's mouths. The sneering innuendo and trickery perpetrated on simple folk as they seek to explain their position. A media inquisition (led by the BBC) intent on building an ugly image, no matter how false.

Truly, like other political parties, UKIP policies need to be subjected to tight scrutiny and clear analysis but conducting a hate filled pogrom against their right to free-speech is simple mindless witch hunting.

There is no place for it in modern society.

Please Note:

Billothewisp is not a member of UKIP or any other political party. He knows nobody within UKIP. He has never had any direct contact with anyone within UKIP. He is unlikely to vote UKIP in the coming General Election. 

He does however believe in free speech. 

If such a travesty was perpetrated against the Lib-Dems or the Greens or even the Labour or Conservative parties, he would write the same.

The Trouble with Bio-Fuels

I was going to post (again) about the Bio-fuel environmental catastrophe and how the EU and particularly Energiewende supporters are promoting it. But Biofuels Reform has beaten me to it.

The short animation below says it all. (h/t to @Thor at twitter for the tip off)

If you thought the Biomass scam was bad (see This Post) then make sure you sit down or stand well clear of breakable objects before you press the play button.

If you want to know some more about the utter environmental carnage taking place in Indonesia with Biofuels and burning Peat forests try this post of mine Fiddling While Sumatra Burns and read links to some of the peer reviewed papers .

Then there is this older post CO2 and Indonesian Peat Fires that gives a comparison of the biofuels scam to favorite Green "enemies" such as air travel.

The Trouble with Biomass

Biomass is the term used for burning vegetation (mainly cropped trees) for the production of electrical energy and heat. Although not exactly the poster boy of Renewable energy, Biomass is actually the largest contributor to renewable energy generation worldwide.

Here is the energy share from Germany for 2014. ( from

Notice that the largest contributor to Germany's renewable energy mix comes from biomass.

In the UK it is no different. Even old coal plant like DRAX is turning to burning imported wood pellets from Virginia to replace coal because it is “Green” (and also attracts massive government subsidy)

But how “Green” is Biomass? How much CO2 (and other pollutants) does it mitigate?

How much does it reduce pollution from the dominant , ugly and disgracefully growing German addiction to Coal? In the UK - how much does it actually reduce CO2 (and pollution) output from DRAX?

An alarming report from the RSPB (Royal Society for the Protection of Birds) calls the whole Biomass methodology into question ( See Here ) This is explored further by this article (plus references on the CO2 Science Website in this Article Here

First lets look at the model that biomass implements. Biomass is a mostly a euphemism for burning wood.

The idea is that a forest plantation is cut down and burnt to generate power and/or heat. Of course this generates CO2 and pollutants, but if the forest is re-planted then it should, over a number of years lock down the CO2 as the forest grows.

Then when the forest reaches a certain maturity and so stops absorbing CO2, it can be cut down again and the whole cycle repeats. Do this over a sufficiently large forested area and you end up with a CO2 neutral energy generation.


Unfortunately the main underlying foundations of this model look increasingly wrong with disastrous consequences.

The trouble with the Biomass model is two-fold.

First it assumes that a forest stops being a net absorber of CO2 when it reaches maturity.

In fact a mature forest continues to lock down CO2 in leaf litter (that turns to peat) Dead standing and fallen trees take very many years to decay as they are naturally replaced. In fact the CO2 lock down from a mature forest is significantly more than that from a mere 20 year old plantation that has ironically been deemed mature enough to be cropped for energy production.

Secondly: The whole forest maturity thing is just plain wrong.

The Biomass concept of a mature forest or plantation is dictated by an illusionary time scale. It has nothing to do with the reality of Carbon lock down. The twenty year maturity figure on which the cropping cycle is typically based is out by a factor of five (at least)

The net result from these two problems is that relatively little carbon gets sequestered down by newly planted forest. Meanwhile thousands of Hectares of mature forest is destroyed for a momentary gain.

Renewable Energy may be fashionable. But its Biomass bedrock is in fact little better than Amazonian Slash and Burn.

So how bad is it really?

From the above RSPB report, generating energy from biomass is considerably worse than even burning even Lignite.

The cyclic burning of 20 year old Conifers generates 180% CO2 of burning hard coal or about 172% CO2 of burning lignite (not shown on graph) 

It is difficult to express how awful this is.

The RSPB report indicates that if you want Biomass CO2 equality with coal you need to give the conifers plantations around a 100 year lifespan. So essentially just to stand still on emissions you need to increases the area of mono-culture forest by a factor of five.

This is terrible.

I must admit, cynical as I am of renewable energy, I never-ever thought biomass could ever be as bad as this.

Biomass has been revealed as a terrible counter-productive catastrophe driven by fashion and pseudo-science. It is making the situation worse not better.

From these figures we can estimate that Biomass (KWh for KWh) produces about 4 times the CO2 of fracked gas - the current Bette Noir of the Greens. Even if you adopted a 100 year cropping cycle Biomass would produce twice as much CO2 as gas.

Nuclear (the ultimate monster of Green nightmares) is at the very least an order of magnitude less polluting than biomass (yes – read that again)

In fact (and I NEVER thought I would say this!) Germany and UK would be more environmentally friendly, produce less CO2 and less other pollutants by burning coal rather than biomass.

Prove me wrong.

But more importantly prove these guys wrong - if you can.

Energy Storage: The Trouble with Power to Gas

There is a fundamental law of Physics called the Law of Conservation of Energy.

It's a real bitch.

Basically it demands that whatever the system you use, you can never get more energy out of it than you put in. So many beautiful dreams have come to naught - just because of this one damn law.

Even so there should be an adjunct to the law of conservation of energy. Something more like a serious health warning really.

Something like:

"Whenever you change from one form of energy to another - you will get screwed."

And I mean really screwed.

If on your last foreign holiday you thought changing currency was robbery then believe me, that was as nothing compared to the losses when changing energy form.

Truly, energy can neither be created or destroyed. But Oh Boy can it get "mislaid" dispersed or changed into unwanted useless forms whenever you try to convert one form into another.

You always (and I mean ALWAYS) end up with less than you started with. Mostly you end up with significantly less.

How good a system is at converting energy is its energy efficiency. It can never-ever be more than 100%.

90% is mind bogglingly good.

An old 19th century steam engine by comparison is about 10% efficient - on a good day.

By burning fossil fuels and liberating their stored chemical energy as heat and then changing that heat (from burning coal or gas) into electricity - you will lose about 50% of the energy as waste heat up the chimney. Still, we do it because electricity is far more useful to us than a lump of coal or a pocket of trapped gas.

Now, what would be the best way to store the energy in (say) gas for a rainy day?

Would it be by just not burning it until needed? Or would be by converting it to electriciy (50% loss) and then post generation converting it back to something else? (say another 50% loss)

I hope it is obvious that by doing a "gas->electricity->something else" you will get royally screwed. In this example you would end up with 25% of what you started with.

You are far, far better off not burning the gas until needed.

Wind turbines and solar PV do not have the luxury of having their energy pre-stored like coal, gas or nuclear. If there is excess generation by wind or solar they either waste the available energy by not converting it or they have to convert it to electricity and then convert it again to some other storeable energy form.

So, with wind (or solar) you have no option but to bear the pain and go with:

"wind->electricity->something else".

One of the much hyped "something elses" for wind/solar is called Power to Gas (Wikipedia article Here).

Twitter is alive with excited windies who see Power to Gas as the the "Great Breakthough" - The mythical silver bullet that will slay the demon problem of energy storage for wind/solar.

To be fair, Power to Gas is technically clever. It takes any excess electricity from wind/solar and via some clever chemistry uses it to generate flammable gas - either hydrogen or methane. This can then be stored and used at some later date either for heat or electricity generation..

The trouble with Power to Gas is is not the cleverness of the technology. The trouble is that damn law of physics about energy conservation. Especially the health warning attached to it.

Turning electricity to potential chemical energy (gas) is at best 75% efficient but more realistically it is around 60%. Then turning that gas back to electricity again reduces the overall efficiency to around 40% at best or more realistically about 30%. In other words we lose about two thirds of the energy - Of course the missing 2/3rds is not destroyed. It is simply just dissipated and lost to the system.

Remember this proposed technique is there to bale-out an already massively subsidized generator. Even if you totally ignore the actual cost of plant and plant operation the price of the re-generated electricity would have to be three times that of the source price just to stay level.

In reality though the price of Power to Gas has been estimated at anything from £500-1000 MWh. Or from 10 to 20 times as expensive as current gas/coal/nuclear generation.

A whole order of magnitude more expensive. Breathtaking!

Power to Gas is a nice idea. It may even have some practical niche applications. But storing excess energy from wind and solar? Dream on.

And all because of that damn law about the Conservation of Energy.

The Trouble with Energy Storage

Energy Storage - The Holy Grail for intermittent electrical generators.

Reading the tweets and articles from the wind and solar industries (and their avid followers) you could be forgiven for thinking that large scale energy storage was a done deal. Something that just needed the bureaucrats in Westminster or Berlin or Washington to rubber stamp.

Sadly though, large scale wind/solar energy storage is not only not a done deal it is not even on the horizon. Even if it was it would still be very far from being a “solution” to intermittent and dilute electrical generation. But more on why that is in a later post.

First of all lets be clear about what I mean by energy storage.

In a way, all current thermal generation and hydro depend on “energy storage” The difference between energy storage at (say) a coal plant and a wind farm is that the coal plant stores its energy pre-generation (i.e. as raw fuel) whereas a wind turbine has to convert its energy into a non-electrical form after excessive generation in order to store it. So the wind turbine has to convert its excess energy into some form of fuel to be stored for later use. The coal plant simply does not use the fuel until it is needed.

(by the way I am using coal plant here because it is a good comparator – not because I am a fan of coal generation – I prefer nuclear)

Typically the front runners for renewable energy post generation fuel storage revolve around two technologies:

  1. Pumped hydro (pumping water up hill into a reservoir)
  2. Or as is the fashion - in some form of Battery.

Pumped Hydro.

Pumped hydro is an old and proven technology. It existed a long time before the current wind/solar obsessions. Originally pumped storage facilities ( like Dinorwig in Wales) were built to store energy when the price was low (typically at night) and then sell that stored energy at peak demand (when prices were high). Using this model, pumped hydro works very well. It is a profitable and very worthwhile addition to the Grid.

But things change when you try and use it to store excess solar and wind energy. You essentially break the pumped hydro economic model, especially with solar PV. (See Speigel Online article here )

You have to buy in energy when prices and demand is high while sacrificing your profitable market as well. Then you then have to sell on when prices and demand is low.

It does not work. Even if you created some subsidy regime to support this broken model, the number of potential pumped hydro sites are very limited anyway.

But at least, individual pumped hydro sites can store relatively large quantities of electricity.

Although UK pumped hydro could not deliver the energy quickly enough to actually take over the whole UK grid, they do hold enough energy to power the entire UK grid for about 1 hour. 

While that may not sound much, it is overwhelmingly better than any form of battery storage.

When we get to battery style storage the practicality and price viability of large scale energy storage falls off a very high cliff.


The biggest battery in Europe is in Leighton Buzzard in the UK. It can store 10MWh of electricity. It could (say) store half the output from a single small 10MW wind farm running at maximum output for two hours. It cost £20 Million. An average UK demand is around 30GWh. So this single battery would power the entire UK grid for about 1.2 seconds.

OK, you may say – let us distribute/duplicate it and use a cheaper technology After all why not have a cheaper 10MWh battery for every (say) 5 wind turbines? You know - Spread it out a bit.

Lets look at the (arguably) most viable and cost effective large scale battery technology available today – Vanadium Redox flow batteries.

(Incidentally - this is VERY clever technology and has many potential applications – I am not knocking the technology – only the application) .

Flow batteries store the energy in the electrolyte. The consequence of this is that theoretically the only limitation to the their storage capacity is the amount of electrolyte you can to store. 

Currently Vanadium Redox batteries store about 20 Wh per litre of electrolyte. So for 10MWh you need to store around 500,000 litres of highly corrosive Sulphuric Acid based electrolyte.

Lets say technical innovation decreases that by a factor of 10. You would still need to pump/store/process 50,000 litres or nearly 100 tonnes of electrolyte. 

That is for 10 MWh. Or 1.2 seconds of nationwide supply.

So, why not just store more electrolyte? Simple eh?

But remember, this stuff is lethal. It is massively corrosive and is a liquid. Then remember this is one SMALL wind farm.

Multiply that by thousands of wind farms. Then avoid killing anyone or regularly risking massive environmental pollution. That really is a challenge!

Of course there are other technologies (Lithium-ion being the other main and more expensive player) but whatever you look at, the problems of large scale energy storage are immense. They are effectively intractable.

Remember, what I have discussed above is the LATEST and most promising technologies. On Twitter people often eulogize about lead-acid batteries or compressed air, but really their capabilities are far below pumped hydro or flow batteries.

But Tom Murphy on his appropriately named blog Do The Math has done a very good analysis of a theoretical (USA) National Lead Acid Battery and its practicalities On this Link

A very interesting post on the EROEI (Energy Returned On Energy Invested) on  storage with RE has been written by John Morgan  On This Link

Large scale post generation energy storage is not viable.

Bit even worse – not only is it not viable, it is also potentially very, very (and appallingly) dangerous.

But more on that in another post.

(Here I am not considering issues with charge/discharge rates, resource availability or lifetime cycle expectancy – they all just make things worse)

Plutonium: Problem or Solution?

Did you know that the worlds stockpile of Plutonium stands at around 500 Tonnes? (incidentally the UK owns about 20% of that) Wikipedia Link Here

Theoretically, a technically competent country could build around 250,000 fission nuclear bombs out of that 500 Tonnes. Each bomb would be around 10KT – about the size that destroyed Hiroshima.

Of course, a technically competent country would actually be capable of using the Plutonium for detonators inside much larger fusion weapons (Hydrogen Bombs).

A less technically competent nation would have more difficulties and may only be capable of producing around 100,000 fission nuclear bombs from the 500 Tonnes.

By any reasonable evaluation the bomb potential from 500 Tonnes of Plutonium on a global scale is effectively limitless.

Clearly safe control and disposal of Plutonium (other than by building bombs out of it) would be a good idea.

So how about burying it?

Plutonium has a half life of 24,000 years. So in 24,000 years time todays stockpile of 500 Tonnes would only build a mere 125,000 bombs. Or for a less technically competent nation a mere 50,000.

So burying it is hardly a solution.

There are a number of cunning plans to “poison” the Plutonium to make it extremely difficult to separate. But you can always guarantee that somewhere, somehow, there will another cunning plan which could be used to purify it.

Even if you successfully poison it what do you do with it then?

There is only one way that I know of that can reduce the Plutonium stockpile - short of blowing people up with it.

That is by using it as fuel in an Integral Fast Reactor (IFR). The by-product of using the Plutonium is a huge supply of electricity. So you dispose of the Plutonium and produce a massive benefit to society at the same time.

Another and less productive use of IFR reactors is to poison the Plutonium in a short time scale, but using it for power production would seem a better idea.

An IFR not only solves the Proliferation issue it also solves the issues surrounding air pollution and carbon emissions from burning coal. An IFR in power mode can consume almost all of its fuel and it produces very small amounts of short lived radioactive waste. It is the ultimate win-win solution to an otherwise intractable problem.

IFR technology is by the way, old proven technology, even though the anti-nuclear lobby will try and bluster you otherwise.

The technology dates back at least four decades. The USA had a working IFR in the 1980's. It was cancelled as a political sop to the anti-nuclear movement. The American IFR was a victim of broad brush ignorance. It remains a victim to this day. (Wikipedia - Argonne Reactor Here)

Ironically the project was killed off just two weeks after a test proved the IFR would safely shut itself down after suffering a total loss of cooling and control. That is why it is often referred to as an intrinsically safe design.

Even the UK had a similar (though not quite the same) project based a Dunraey in Scotland in 1970's While the Dunraey reactors had a number of design issues they did show the feasibility of the IFR concept was sound. (Wikipedia Dunraey Reactor Here)

Today Russia operates two commercial IFR's. India is building one and I believe China has just commissioned its first. So this is no pie in the sky unproven dream world technology. (World Nuc. News - Existing & Future IFR's Here)

GE-Hitachi have a design for a 600MW reactor based on the original USA design from the 1980's. It is the current front runner in the UK to deal with the Plutonium issue. It is called the PRISM reactor. 

But there is a problem.

The problem is with people who would rather bury their heads in the sand than seek a solution to the Plutonium stockpile problem.

Feckless politicians are likely to sit on their hands rather than risk the wrath of Green groups. Even though these anti nuclear groups have no solution to the plutonium stockpile themselves.

If you have a magic solution to the Plutonium stockpile other than by using PRISM reactors please tell me – I'd love to know what it is.

But without a magic solution (or PRISM reactors) the Plutonium stockpile is not going anywhere soon. As far as I can see the only way to put the Plutonium Genie back in the bottle is to constructively use it for the benefit of mankind in PRISM reactors.

So what is your solution? What do you do with 500 tonnes of Plutonium?

If you have some magic plan other than PRISM what is it?

Tell me.
(Post posting note! It has been correctly pointed out on twitter that PRISM reactors are not the only constructive nuclear technology that can use the Plutonium. There are other promising avenues of development, such as Molten Salt Reactors and Sub Critical reactors to name just two. I had no intention of dissing these promising avenues of development but at the moment in the UK the front runner (by a long margin) is the PRISM reactor.

Parliament Votes to Abolish Wind Farm Subsidies

A Ten Minute Rule bill introduced by MP Nigel Adams to abolish subsidies to on-shore wind farms was passed by a small majority today in the UK Parliament. This means that the bill will go forward to a second reading on the 6th March. ( See This Link )

The turn out for this vote was small with 67 supporting it and 65 opposing.

Where were the other 480 or so MPs? 

Your guess is as good as mine. 

But due to the nature of the bill I expect most of them decided that cowardice was the better part of valor.

While it would be very good news if this bill made it into law, at this stage this Ten Minute Rule bill is non binding. Ten Minute Rule bills are usually used to test the political water.

From the lack of the attendance at this debate, it appears the political water surrounding unpopular wind turbine subsidies is very, very cold.  

Hopefully though, the wind turbine Carpet Baggers will get the message Loud and Clear.

It is going to be abolition of subsidies first. 

Then we start talking about compensation for those so badly affected by these useless follies.

Je Suis Charlie (With Caveats)

It has become the norm to express disgust at the mass murder at the Charlie Hebdo office and the Parisian Jewish supermarket by declaring yourself "Je Suis Charlie".

So, Dear Reader I am also "Je Suis Charlie".


I don't agree with causing offence for no reason.

Some of the satire from Charlie Hebdo was cogent and had a moot political point. It would also be true to say a great deal of the offensive cartoonery (and not just that mocking Islam) has been devoid of any meaningful social comment.

Charlie Hebdo was not just a vehicle for political commentary. It was also a vehicle used to express contempt and derision of unfashionable groups within French society. Groups which did not fit into the pompous left wing elitist monoculture that epitomises papers like Charlie Hebdo.

So Charlie Hebdo caused offence. No doubt I may well have been one of the offended.

But as Stephen Fry once said regarding being offended:-

So Fucking What?

So Fucking What if I (or anyone else) found Charlie Hebdo offensive?

So Fucking What if the staff of Charlie Hebdo were a bunch of metropolitan elitist tossers?

People could (as was their want) ignore the scurrilous publication. Or alternatively, they could rage against it within the precepts of the law. Maybe they could cause Charlie Hebdo some offence in return.

But what is most certainly a deranged and preposterously out of proportion response is to pick up a machine gun and butcher everyone. Including the maintenance man and two policemen. Or murder people simply because they used a shop that caused "offence". An offence caused by its religious allegiance.

Of course this was not really the action of the terminally offended.

It was the action of socially alienated losers. A bunch of losers that in a different context would have been just as happy to follow the mindless brutal dictates of (say) Nazi Germany or (say) the Kymer Rouge.

Charlie Hebdo cartoons may have offended the self declared executioners. But the food store had caused no offence to anyone. Except to the Nazi-esque bigots who performed these crimes. Clearly they were offended by its "Jewishness".

How pathetic is that?

Massacring people gave these misfits a sense of power in their pointless wretched lives.

A sense of power no doubt also experienced by concentration guards as they shovelled the Xyclon B crystals into the fake shower blocks at Auchwitz. Or members of the Ku Klux Klan as they lyched some hapless negro in the 1920's.

Just as with Nazi Germany or the Southern States of America in the 1920's the murderous losers have a support base.

Tonight in Muslim countries and communities across the world there will be some people celebrating the slaughter at Charlie Hebdo and the Jewish supermarket.

But it would be a foolish and wholly inaccurate knee jerk reaction to tar most Muslims with the same brush as the Paris losers.

Remember the boots on the ground fighting ISIS in Syria and Northern Iraq are Kurdish boots and mostly, Kurdish boots are Sunni Muslim boots. Meanwhile Kurdistan offers a safe haven for persecuted Yahsidis and Christians.

Young Kurdish men and young Kurdish women are driving back the ISIS barbarians both militarily and morally. In doing so they are suffering heavy losses.

It would be a crying shame if these brave souls were to be unjustly labelled as fellow travelers of the Paris nutters.

It is a big mistake to label all Muslims as barbarians.

Undoubtedly some are.

But most are not.

Navitus Bay - Deadline 5 looms

If you are an interested party in the Navitus Bay Wind Park Planning Examination - take note.

Right on the last examination deadline (11th Dec - Deadline 4)  Navitus Bay Development Ltd dumped over 30 new documents on the Examining Authority for inspection. Included within the this pile is one which purportedly even replaces their original Appendix 43 for their now infamous and laughably named "Mitigation Option".

The next deadline to which comments on these new documents must be made is January 7th.

So if you want to make comments on any of these documents - time is tight. You only have a few days left.

They are available on the Examining Authorities site Here

A New Year for Sgt Blackman

I don't usually comment on miscarriages of justice especially as many of these so-called injustices often appear to be little more than an excuse by no-win no-fee lawyers to turn a deal.

But there is one current injustice that has become a national itch. An itch that will not go away. An itch that if not addressed will develop into a running sore. We have enough of those already in this country.

To stay silent makes me a part of the injustice, a part of the problem. So forgive me this brief foray out of the usual track of this blog. But I must state where I stand on the case of Sgt Blackman.

Sgt Blackman is a Royal Marine with an exemplary service record. He has served with distinction in Northern Ireland, Iraq and Afganistan. To put it simply, Sgt Blackman and his colleague have been the folk fielding the shit while successive ego-centric governments have pranced about on the world stage in order to show us what super-dynamic politicians they are.

Actually I'm not arguing with that. I don't suppose Sgt Blackman would either. After all, that was his job.

What I am arguing with is that Sgt Blackman is today in jail serving a life sentence for the murder of a seriously wounded/dying/dead Taliban insurgent he shot on the battlefield.

Basically Sgt Blackman and colleagues were on an active battlefield. An air strike has killed a number of insurgents. There was one left who was either dying from his wounds or died as they arrived on the scene.

Sgt Blackman shot the insurgent. He was then charged with murder.

But what really caused Sgt Blackman to be tried for murder was a stupid little diatribe he spoke after he fired the shot. This diatribe was recorded and used against him.

Sgt Blackman had good cause to be resentful of the Taliban, as do very many of the service personnel who have served in Afghanistan. Many of their friends have been killed and seriously injured by underhand attacks. The Taliban have regularly used children or villagers as human shields. IEDs are usually laced with dog faeces and any other poison the Taliban could lay hold of.

The Geneva Convention never really featured in Taliban combat philosophy.

While out there on that day, Sgt Blackman (and his comrades) must all have been aware of the immediate possibility of losing limbs or life to a cruel and ruthless enemy.

It is hardly surprising a modicum of spite featured in the now notorious speech.

Remember this was an active battlefield. It was not a base camp. Neither was it a peaceful village. Nor was there any doubt that the dying Taliban was a combatant. The dying Taliban had presumably, (until taken out by the air strike) been doing his very best to kill Sgt Blackman and his comrades.

To suggest from the comfort and safety of the Home Counties that Sgt Blackman committed murder is a palpable nonsense.

Maybe Sgt Blackman broke military discipline and needed a dressing down by his commanding officer. Maybe he needed to see a shrink about stress and the pent-up anger he expressed at the enemy.

But should he have been charged with murder? Seriously?

Charged with murder for a decision made in a life threateningly hostile and stressful combat situation? Really?

I suppose there is a class of people in this country who would actively support the conviction of Sgt Blackman. All I can say to them that nobody has the right to demand rules applicable to Surbiton or Hampstead be applied to such dangerous situation.

The conviction smacks of a political convenience. A sacrificial appeasement to those who view this country with disdain and would rather side with the Taliban than their own countrymen.

Personally I believe Sgt Blackman should not only be released, he should be fully restored into the Royal Marines (If that is his wish). Then he should be paid a considerable sum as compensation for this politically motivated miscarriage of justice.

Sgt Blackman is at this time a hostage to political correctness. A sacrifice to appease the harridan demands of those who wish to see (or at least imagine) the worst of the UK and its faithful servants. 

Whether it is this year, next year, or the year after that, the running sore that is this injustice will have to be addressed. In the end this will not be allowed to stand.

The longer it goes on the worse it will be for everyone.

Arrogance Ignorance and Greenpeace

H/T to unknown Peruvian on twitter - I lost their handle

Have you heard about the damage done to the ancient Nazca line monuments in Peru? I did find one article in the Times (on page 17) and the Guardian reported the half hearted Greenpeace apology (Here) but it appears that the BBC have suppressed the story.

Just in case you have not heard the story – here is a brief summary.

In Peru at night a group of Greenpeace activists drove a jeep up to one of the ancient Nasca outlines then trampled over the area laying out a piece of Greenpeace propaganda. 

According to the outraged Peruvian government ( as well as assorted other experts) the group did irreparable damage to the area. As the sun rose on their propaganda outrage it was photographed from an aircraft. (you can see them proudly standing in the middle of their “art” if you look closely below.) 

This clearly this was not just a group of disparate uncoordinated nutters. It was an organised coordinated assault on one of the ancient wonders of the world. 

The Greenpeace vandals were I suspect ignorant of the damage that would be caused to the ancient monument area by their actions. They were also too stupid and soaked in their own arrogance to actually check the potential for catastrophe before they set out.

The damage done

Due to the nature of the site this is damage that will never heal. It is arguably worse than spraying graffitti on StoneHenge. At least that could possibly be removed - this damage will never change.

Greenpeace have issued an apology (of sorts) It sounds more like a pompous self justification than anything else. Lucky for them, their friends in the MSM (especially the BBC) have shut the story down in the UK. Meanwhile outrage world-wide continues (try twitter hashtag #NascaLines)

Can you imagine the media coverage if this outrage had been perpetrated by anyone else?

Today the fanaticism and doctrinaire obedience of Greenpeace activists to their narrow bigotry knows no bounds. They proudly desecrate ancient and irreplaceable monuments like the Nasca lines. Then toss a few weasel words out to placate the morally offended. All this to promote abysmally ineffective energy production. It becomes clear that to them any means justifies their ill thought out and pseudo-scientific end. Meanwhile they have the MSM in their pocket - or have them too intimidated to take a stand.

Greenpeace gets more like the fledgling Nazi party every day.

Wind Corporation Games

Go back to 2009. That was the year Vestas closed their wind turbine blade manufacturing plant on the Isle of Wight.

It was an ugly messy affair. 

Hundreds of people were thrown out of work. A group of the work force occupied the factory. Some redundancy payments were refused and folk were reduced to severe economic hardship. (Telegraph Report Here(On the Wight Report Here)

Why did all this happen? The company stated that there was no market for wind turbines in the UK. (Business Green report Here)

Remember this was right in the middle of the government sponsored planning orgy that allowed massive wind turbine deployment across the UK. This calamity has effectively industrialised large areas of previously rural or wild land.

So Vestas' stated reason was (how should we say...) economical with the truth. Perhaps they knew that the government was so in-thrall to the wind industry that closing down their Isle of Wight factory would have little effect their market share.

The same year they went on to employ another 5000 people in China, the USA and Spain. But it was not just the Isle of Wight that took a hammering. In Scandinavia (including Denmark itself), 3000 loyal employees (properly paid and working in unsubsidised factories) were made redundant.

Factories and employees that had built up the Vestas business were cast off like used Kleenexe. Meanwhile Vestas slavered over cheap labour, subsidies and the political leverage of bringing “employment” to hard hit areas.

In a ruthlessly globalist and morally repugnant way Vestas actually expanded its work force in 2009.

Now come forward to the present day.

All of a sudden, in a great fanfare of Green Roo-ha-ha Vestas are back.

With a perverse sense of deja-vu they plan to set up a manufacturing facility on the Isle Wight and in total bring 800 jobs to the UK specifically to manufacture offshore wind turbine blades.

The exact number destined for the Isle of Wight is unclear.

So why is this corporate monster so keen all of a sudden to kiss and make up with the unemployed on the Isle of Wight?

I think the answer comes in a single ugly coast scarring phrase. Navitus Bay.

Navitus Bay is the name given to a huge wind farm planned to lie just offshore of the Jurassic Coast and the golden sands of Bournemouth Bay. By “sheer conincidence” it is currently going through the planning approval stage

Navitus is in trouble. They were hoping to steam-roller their money making scheme though the planning process but they have met stiff opposition from everyone from local councils, international environmental organisations (Unesco), local MPs and rank and file local residents. The number of written objections to this proposed calamity is now a national record.

Navitus plan to spend around £800 million on turbines. So wouldn't it be rather convenient if at this point in time local jobs were hostage to offshore turbine orders, and those orders were in turn dependent on getting approval for this ruinous industrial wind complex?

I have three predictions:

Prediction One:

If things get tough for Navitus (which I sincerely hope they will) all of a sudden you will get rumblings from Vestas about “unwilling to invest in jobs in a hostile environment” or some other such bullshit.

Assorted political lackys will then line up to warn how rejecting Navitus will “destroy Green jobs”. Even though Vestas has been quite effective at doing that on the Isle of Wight already.

Prediction Two:

God forbid. If this monstrosity were ever to be built, then its going to be Vestas turbines all the way.

Prediction Three:

Finally as to the “new” Vestas jobs:

Navitus Bay threatens to destroy a huge number of jobs and seriously impact the tourist industry all along this coast. The jobs brought to the Isle of Wight by Vestas will be but a drop in the ocean compared to those lost.

But I predict the jobs building turbine blades will be safe. That is until they are needed elsewhere in the world to exert some political influence or, in true ugly globalist fashion, the Isle of Wight workforce can be undercut and their jobs exported.

Remember especially with this last point, Vestas already have a track record.