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.

Yet Another Damning Wind Power Report

Another detailed and peer reviewed report on the effectiveness of wind power has been recently published by the Adam Smith Institute. (h/t to @strumcrazy at twitter)

The report has been produced by an Engineer with a long history in the power generation industry including pumped hydro. It's data is unimpeachable and is based on reliable wind speed data obtained from airport meteorology stations. 

The summary is brutally factual and casts a long black shadow over all the vacuous hype over wind power recently seen in the UK.

The document is available Here

Here are some of those brutal facts. (but by no means all)

Over one year the UK model showed:

Power exceeds 90% of available power for only 17 hours
Power exceeds 80% of available power for 163 hours
Power is below 20% of available power for 3,448 hours (20 weeks)
Power is below 10% of available power for 1,519 hours (9 weeks)

The most common output of the entire theoretical 10GW UK wind turbine fleet is 800MW or 8%.

The probability that the wind fleet will produce full output is vanishingly small.

Long gaps in significant wind production occur in all seasons.

To cover these gaps would need energy storage equivalent to 15 Dinorwig size plants (incidentally Dinorwig cost £1.5Bn. It is also not far short of being geologically unique in the UK – Billo)

As we cannot build 15 Dinorwig's in the UK we could do what the German Energiewende is doing and build dirty Lignite burning coal plant instead as backup. ( that is not a serious suggestion by the way)

Of course, if this was just one paper, however scrupulously prepared, we may well be entitled to a level of skepticism about its findings.

But this is very far from the first.

In 2010 The famous Nature conservancy charity “The John Muir Trust” commissioned a report by Stuart Young Consulting. The John Muir Trust webpage on this report (with link) is Here The actual Paper on its own is Here

Stuart Young Consulting (using actual generation data) found the following:

Over a two year period (2008-10) The UK wind turbine fleet was:
  • below 20% of capacity more than half the time
  • below 10% of capacity over one third of the time
  • below 2.5% capacity for the equivalent of one day in twelve
  • below 1.25% capacity for the equivalent of just under one day a month
Again that is just a subset of the dismal performance they found.

Does it stop there? – No. Here are a few more reports:

Reports by:

Mercados Consulting – Powerful Targets (2012 originally suppressed by UK govt.) Link Here

Civitas – The Folly of Windpower (2012) Link Here

Prof. G Hughs Edinburgh University - Why Is Wind Power So Expensive? (2012) Link Here

The Royal Academy of Engineers – The Cost of Generating Electricity (2004) Link Here

Note that the oldest of these reports dates back some 10 years. This is not new knowledge but it has been comprehensively buried and suppressed by the wind industry and their political backers.

But as the saying goes: 

The truth will out.

Navitus Bay Wind Park - Threat to Jurassic Coast : UNESCO

The Jurassic coast is the coastal section in England stretching from Studland Bay down through the Purbecks to Lime Bay and the East Devon coast. Immediately adjacent to the Eastern end of the Jurassic coast is the magnificent seven mile stretch of sandy beach around Bournemouth and Poole Harbour. As a natural environment it is unsurpassed in the UK. In Europe and the World it may have equals but nothing can trump the Jurassic Coast.

But the Jurassic coast is not just “pretty”. It is geologically and historically important.

Laid down during the Jurassic period (hence the name) the cliffs and stata are laden with fossils. The first fossils were identified here in the 19th century. The whole area has a massive importance to the study of geology and pre-history. The cliffs and region provide a continuous record of life over a 185 million year period

The area is so important that UNESCO has designated the Jurassic Coast a “World Heritage Site” There are only four such sites, classed as “natural” in the UK with another 28 designated as “Cultural”

One would imagine, in a (supposedly) civilised and advanced nation that such items as having a World Heritage site would be a mark of pride and would call for extra special protection and care. One would hope such sites would be protected and cherished.

Well, dream on.

Immediately off this shore-line and in the face of massive public outrage, a Dutch/French corporate alliance plan to build an enormous Wind Park. The government is firmly in their pocket.

But others, other than greedy foreign corporations or a morally bankrupt supine governments have an interest in the Jurassic coast.

The prospect of the proposed Navitus Bay Wind Park of 196 huge industrial wind turbines being built immediately offshore the Jurassic coast has caused such alarm within UNESCO that they are discussing the potential removal of the special status that the Jurassic coast has. (See BBC Report on This LInk) 

UNESCO commissioned their own independent impact study into the wind park. Unsurprisingly (thats to the locals - but not apparently to EDF) this impact assessment differs considerably from the “independent” report commissioned (and paid for) by the Dutch/French consortium.

The UNESCO commissioned report would appear to have more in common with the views of the local population than the one commissioned by the money hungry foreign corporations. 

Now, isn't that a surprise? (not)

Here is a snippet of what UNESCPO said to the government

"Any potential impacts on this natural property (the Jurassic Coast) are in contradiction to the overarching principle of the World Heritage Convention.
"The property will change from being located in a natural setting largely free from human-made structures to one dominated by human-made structures."

Are we really going to let greedy foreign corporations trash one of the worlds most important sites? Are we really going to let them get away with this?

Seriously, why the hell has this not been thrown out a long time before this?

How the hell has this potential travesty and rape of natural England been allowed to progress this far?

Wind Turbine Design, Cube Laws, Efficiency and Cock Ups

Well, I have to 'fess up to having made an error regarding the output characteristics of modern day Industrial Wind Turbines.

A silly mistake at that.

But possibly a mistake that also reveals some interesting possibilities with wind turbines. Especially related to reducing their size, noise and increasing useful power output.

Crack Pottery? Possibly. But I've not been at the cider yet. (honest)

First, in order for this post to make sense, let me summarise some things that ARE true.
  • The energy in the wind is a cube of the speed. In other words if you double the wind speed – wind contains 8 x energy. Halve wind speed- wind contains one eighth the energy.
  • The theoretical maximum amount of this raw wind energy that can be harvested is 59.3% (Betz's Law)
  • In reality the most efficient turbines manage about 45% (at a wind speed of around 7-8 m/s).

All of the above are correct. (Or I really am in trouble!)

My mistake in some earlier posts was to assume the efficiency of a wind turbine was roughly constant across the operational wind speed range (up to maximum output). 

Sadly this is nowhere near true.

In reality the efficiency (or how much energy the wind turbine can actually suck out of the wind) drops like a stone as the wind speed increases.

For most industrial wind turbines the highest efficiency (at around a wind speed of 7m/s) is about 45%. But as the wind speed increases, the efficiency falls to around 10% at a 90% loading.

The overall effect of this is to roughly linearise the power output to the wind speed. So instead of getting eight times the power out when you double the wind speed you only get double the power out. The rest is spilled.

So what does this matter if the thing is only as efficient as a 19th century steam engine when confronted with a high wind?

It matters a lot.

Way back in 2002 at the Lee Ranch wind turbine research facility in New Mexico, it was discovered that 50% of the annual energy output of a wind turbine was delivered in 15% of the time. 

My own analysis done back in 2011 showed that for a three month period the whole UK wind turbine fleet delivered 50% of its energy in 25% of the time. But remember that was for the whole distributed fleet. 

It would be reasonable to assume that for a single facility, the Lee Ranch figures are roughly correct for the UK too. Also, there is no reason to think any design change to wind turbines since 2002 will have significantly affected these Lee Ranch findings.

In order to harvest the 50% of the energy that is smeared out over 85% of the year you have to compromise the turbines efficiency at higher wind speeds. The result today is an enormous unreliable monster.

So, for a moment, let us forget about the grindingly low 50% of energy generation that gets smeared over 85% of the year. Let us concentrate on the other 50% that arrives in 15% of the time (currently at an efficiency of a measly 10-15%).

For arguments sake, let us design a turbine that may not cut in until the wind speed is 12 or 14 m/s but then delivers an efficiency of 40%. It will (MW/hr for MW/hr) be very much smaller, simpler and more robust than a conventional turbine. 

OK it will only operate for 15% of the time and it is truly intermittent. But all wind is intermittent. Remember a conventional turbines output during 85% of the year is pretty derisory anyway. Often it is so low that it might as well not be there.

So, build smaller more efficient turbines. Crucially, in order to make these turbines more efficient, they only operate at higher wind speeds. We then rely on gas backup for the rest. More predictable, less environmental impact and more reliable (due to narrower operating domain). 

Tell me where I'm wrong. (Seriously - I may well be)

Of course this is still all window dressing. This (and the rest of RE) is just Care Bear fluff. Nuclear plant (with some gas) is the ONLY viable option to cut GHG and air pollution.  

But I hope that this is at least “interesting” fluff.

F Minus for the GroKo

OK. I've been away. Recovering from my jet lag I came across this. The video not only shows that our German friends have a truly wicked humour it also shows that they are becoming pig sick of the fatuous and failing Energiewende and their coalition government that promotes it. The video is subtitled and starts slowly but persevere. After two minutes it is a truly wonderful cutting satire.

Love & kisses

Lovelock: Adapt and Survive

In an opinion paper, Dr James Hansen has recently posed the following question:

"Do Scientists Have a Duty to Expose Popular Misconceptions?"

Dr Hansen then went on and answered his own question by blasting away vigorously at some choice misconceptions and at the medieval self serving bigotry that so often defeats (or at least holds back) scientific, technological and social progress.

(His paper is Here - it is well worth a read)

Whether by coincidence or not, the Grand Old Man of Rational Environmentalism, Dr James Lovelock CH, CBE, FRS is first to take up Hansen's call to arms.

In a new Channel 4 video ( This Link ) he expounds on the benefits of Nuclear, the sheer stupidity of wind farms and also expresses his reasoned support for fracking.

Although now 92 years old his sharpness and lucidity clearly rattle his interviewer, who was no doubt expecting somewhat less forthright (and more conformist) views.

The video, along with a commentary is in This Link to the relevent Channel 4 blog page:

Enjoy. (I did)

The Merchants of Doubt

I know some folk who read this blog are nervous about Nuclear power or even out-right hostile.

Today I do not want you to listen to my reasoning as to why Nuclear is the only practical solution to our problems. Instead I would ask you to read  the following quote from one of the greatest scientists who has ever lived.

Then I would ask you to look at the people who have previously advised you to be against Nuclear.

Look at them closely. What are their skills? Where is their expertise?

How good are they actually as scientists? How many papers have they published in leading journals?

How do they compare with the likes of pro-nuclear scientists like Hansen, Lovelock, Wigley and Allinson?

Anyway, here's the quote:

Dr James Hansen writes:


The public is unaware of pressure put on scientists to be silent about nuclear power.

After I mention nuclear power I receive numerous messages, often heart-breaking in their sincerity as they repeat Caldicott like unfounded assertions and beg me not to mention nuclear power.
More disconcerting is the pressure from environmental organizations and the liberal media. Each large environmental organization has a nuclear “expert” (often a lawyer, not a physicist) with a well-developed script to respond to any positive statement about nuclear power.

Liberal media follow precisely the “merchants of doubt” approach that the right-wing media use to block action on climate change; raising fears about nuclear power is enough to stymie support. The liberal media employ not only environmental organization “experts”, but former heads of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) appointed during Democratic Administrations.

These NRC talking heads are well-spoken professionals with a spiel that has been honed over years. And they have a track record. The NRC, despite its many dedicated capable employees, has been converted from the top into a lawyer-laden organization that can take many months or years to approve even simple adjustments to plans. 

It is almost impossible to build a nuclear power plant in the United States in less than 10 years, and this is not because an American worker cannot lay one brick on top of another as fast as a Chinese worker. Anti-nukes know that the best way to kill nuclear power is to make it more expensive.

Those are the exact words of one of the worlds leading scientists. the full text of his statement is Here (the above extract, fully in context, is on page 15.)

Now, ask yourself this: Who is telling the truth?

The world leading scientist and his many peer level colleagues?

Or the propaganda department from Greenpeace?

Death by Energiewende

A while back (in this post - Here) I worked out roughly how many people would be killed from air pollution by the insane German retreat from nuclear power and the consequent retrenchment into a choking mix of lignite and hard coal. The deaths, limited as it was to the partial shut-down so far actioned, came out at a staggering 1150 per year and that is ignoring the tens of thousands of seriously ill and the legion of minor debilitating ailments.

Even though my humble calculations used unimpeachable peer reviewed data from world leading academics, my post drew a fair amount of flak from assorted greens. Their continuous denial (especially relating to the use of lignite as a nuclear substitute) was absolute. Nuclear was the enemy. The use of coal/lignite as a substitute was not their problem. In fact they opposed the use of coal/lignite as well. (sigh). Clearly realism was not their top priority

Well, denial is a difficult thing to overcome. But luckily this excellent post by the Breakthrough Institute (Here) gave me an idea.

Even if we ignore the coal and lignite, perhaps we can figure out the casualty figures from the renewable sources themselves. Here, for brevity, I'll stick to the main killer among the renewable technologies. That technology is Biomass. The ugliness of the fanatical exploitation of German agriculture to service this new god is well described in the Breakthrough post above.

Using figures from Here and Here it would appear that currently Germany sources around 600 PetaJoules (or around 167 TWhr)  from biomass annually.

So how many people will this kill every year? Luckily we have a highly regarded and scrupulously peer reviewed paper by Markandya & Wilkinson to help us out (Paper is Here ) In this paper we find this table.

Using the above table we find that this 167 TW/hrs of energy derived from biomass will kill (4.63 x 167) about 750 people EVERY year. The serious illness (hospitalised) count comes in at over 7000/yr and minor though debilitating illness is a staggering 38,000.

The Green cults running this insanity want to (at least) double this usage, and so double the death toll. But remember this is simply the biomass. These figures appalling as they are, get buried in the noise when you start looking at lignite/coal.

Now let us substitute 600PJ of nuclear instead of the biomass. According to Markandya & Wilkinson this 167 TW/hrs of nuclear will kill 8 people and lead to 36 serious illnesses. 

So the terrified Germans with their Energiewende and nuclear close-down, are killing nearly 100 people from biomass for every potential death from nuclear. But at least this way they can balm their medieval paranoia over nuclear.

Of course it is actually much, much worse than this, because to replace nuclear you REALLY do use coal/lignite as a substitute. Biomass is (and always will be) a bit part player.

Thousands will die needlessly EVERY year in Germany because of the mythical fears and hysteria promoted by the Greens so they can do away with nuclear.

The Energiewende and the Greens' denial of deaths from coal/lignite and biomass, coupled with their hysterical non-scientific opposition to nuclear will see thousands of ordinary Germans sent to early graves. Every year. Year in. Year out.

Yet it is unlikely that any death certificates will bear the real cause of death. I imagine signing off someones life with "Death by Energiewende" would be strictly verboten.