Sunday, October 11, 2020

GWPF Newsletter: Britain Rocked By Windfarm Scandal That Is Set To Cost Consumers £1.4 Billion


In this newsletter:

1) Britain Rocked By Windfarm Scandal That Is Set To Cost Consumers £1.4 Billion
Daily Mail, 10 October 2020
2) New Windfarm Scandal Three Times Worse Than ‘Cash for Ash’
Daily Mail, 10 October 2020


3) Boris Johnson Announces 200% Rise in Electricity Prices
Global Warming Policy Forum, 6 October 2020

4) Matt Ridley: What the Pandemic Has Taught Us About Science
The Wall Street Journal, 9 October 2020
5) And Finally: Prince William's Earthshot Prize
TalkRadio, 9 October 2020

Full details:

1) Britain Rocked By Windfarm Scandal That Is Set To Cost Consumers £1.4 Billion
Daily Mail, 10 October 2020
Sam Greenhill

A botched green scheme is paying wind turbine owners seven times the value of the electricity they generate – and it is set to cost UK consumers an estimated £1.4billion. 

A subsidy rate for wind  turbine owners could see them pocketing up to seven times more than the amount of power they produce, in what has been branded a ‘licence to print money’
The Daily Mail can reveal the eyewatering fiasco in the week Boris Johnson declared that wind power was the future for the nation’s energy generation.

The scheme was set up to encourage homeowners to install a small windmill to supply their needs and feed into the electricity grid. 
Owners are guaranteed bonanza pots of cash for 20 years, and the scheme is so lucrative, it has triggered a gold rush among investors, including leading pension funds.
The farcical initiative was set up in Northern Ireland, but the breathtaking costs will be felt in every corner of the UK thanks to higher ‘green levies’ on household and business utility bills. 
It dwarfs the £500million wasted by an earlier botched green energy scandal in the province, dubbed ‘Cash for Ash’ which led to the fall of the Stormont Government three years ago. 
A Mail investigation has found: 
* One turbine reaps about £375,000 a year, yet produces electricity worth just £51,000; 
* The bumper subsidy is available only in Ulster but adds £71million a year to energy bills across the UK; 
* As the subsidy is guaranteed for 20 years, the overall cost to UK consumers will be an estimated £1.4billion; 
* Incompetent officials tried to shut the scheme in 2016 –
but loopholes let it run until March 2019;  
* In a stampede to erect turbines before the deadline, hundreds were put up, many owned by venture capitalists and even the Royal Bank of Scotland’s pension fund. 
On Tuesday, the Prime Minister made a dramatic pledge to power every home by wind by 2030. 
Mr Johnson told the Conservative conference he would work at ‘gale-force speed’ to usher in his ‘green industrial revolution’. 

But the Mail’s investigation uncovers how an existing wind scheme is being abused at a vast cost to consumers. 
It was set up to incentivise landowners to erect small wind turbines. They would receive  fees for ‘clean’ power fed into the electricity grid. Even David Cameron erected one in his back garden. 
Ministers called it a ‘clean energy cashback’. To fund it, they introduced a ‘green levy’. 
This so-called ‘renewables obligation’ adds about £73 a year to a typical household electricity bill. 
After 2009, these incentives were recognised as being too generous and were dramatically cut down in England, Wales and Scotland. 
But Northern Ireland officials inexplicably kept the rate sky-high – sparking a rush among wealthy investors to install clapped-out turbines and claim practically risk-free handouts. 
Last night green energy expert Dr John Constable said: ‘Someone made a mistake: simple as that. Clever business people see these mistakes. There was a total stampede. Some people must be getting fabulously rich. 
‘I watched the PM’s speech and thought, “here we go again”.’ 
The data on which the calculations are made are available on the website of energy regulator Ofcom.
On a desolate hilltop south of Londonderry, the Mail found the wind turbine likely to be the biggest money-spinner of its type in the UK. 
Named ‘SP2045’, its blades revolved enough in the brisk Ulster breeze last year to generate about £51,000 of electricity. 
But this particular machine is worth a further £324,000 more in green subsidies. In total, SP2045 reaped £375,000 in 2019 – more than seven times the market value of the electricity it actually produced.
Public records show SP2045 belongs to a company named Simple Power No1 Ltd. Its ultimate owner
Using Companies House files, we traced it back to the Royal Bank of Scotland’s pension fund.
In fact, there are hundreds of second-hand turbines dotted over the rolling hills of Northern Ireland that are owned by blue-chip firms. 
City financiers, it seems, spotted the potential for bountiful returns – and especially so after civil servants set the subsidy rate for small wind farms at a bafflingly generous rate. 
For spurious reasons, the owners of small wind turbines – defined as those with a peak output of 250 kilowatts – in Northern Ireland are entitled to a handout worth about £220 for every megawatt of power they produce per hour. 
Elsewhere in the UK, the figure changes every year, but was £16 last year. And that is on top of selling the actual electricity at market price. 
The wholesale price of electricity fluctuates but has averaged about £35 per megawatt-hour over the past year. 
So the owner receives £35 for the electricity plus £220 in subsidy, totalling £255 – more than seven times the market value of the power itself. 
The same does not apply to windmill owners anywhere else in the UK. Nor does it apply to larger turbines. 
As the subsidy is guaranteed for 20 years, the overall cost to UK consumers will be an estimated £1.4billion.


Dr Constable, director of the Renewable Energy Foundation, said:
‘The civil service error created a licence to print money. These small 250kW turbines have been obsolete for years and nobody would have built them at the time, except as a loophole cash cow. They’re terrible value for public subsidy, but an absolute goldmine for investors.‘ 

Full story
2) New Windfarm Scandal Three Times Worse Than ‘Cash for Ash’
Daily Mail, 10 October 2020
The Mail’s revelations raise disturbing questions for First Minister Arlene Foster, who was energy minister of the Northern Ireland government at the time the bonanza subsidy rate was set in 2009.

Mrs Foster also presided over the similar ‘Cash for Ash’ scandal, which brought down her government in 2017.

2017: Green energy scandal brings down Northern Ireland’s government
That flawed green scheme, called the Renewable Heat Incentive, paid customers more for using renewable energy than the actual cost of the fuel.

Some families left their boilers running 24/7, and irresponsible farmers heated empty barns.

For every £1 they spent on heating, they got back £1.60 in subsidies.

A damning public inquiry concluded earlier this year the scheme should never have been adopted.

Chairman Sir Patrick Coghlin was critical of the First Minister but allowed that she was given incorrect information by her officials.

He also warned that such a calamitous situation could happen again, saying: ‘There is no guarantee that the weaknesses shown in governance, staffing and leadership revealed by the inquiry’s investigation could not combine again.’

The cost of ‘Cash for Ash’ to taxpayers is up to £500million.

The new fiasco – which may come to be dubbed ‘Son of Cash for Ash’ – is potentially three times as expensive.

Full post
3) Boris Johnson Announces 200% Rise in Electricity Prices
Global Warming Policy Forum, 6 October 2020

Ignoring clear evidence that the underlying economics of renewables are disastrous, the Prime Minister has today committed the UK to a further expansion of offshore wind power by 2030, with frightening implications for electricity prices, which would have to treble to pay the real costs.

This is not only economically foolish, but incoherent climate policy since today’s decision will ensure that other low emission goals, such as the electrification of vehicles and domestic heating, become unaffordable for most Britons.

Despite the wind industry’s smoke and mirrors, offshore wind remains an extremely expensive way of generating electricity. Meeting the Prime Minister’s target will actually increase current costs still further because of the need to build turbines in deeper water with much higher operating costs. 

In addition, the hidden costs of integrating high levels of intermittent wind generation into the electricity system add at least 50% to the direct costs of the wind fleet.

This rash and misconceived pledge throws any prospect of post-Covid and post-Brexit recovery into desperate jeopardy. With the prospect of much higher electricity prices no reasonable investor will put money into any UK manufacturing or related businesses with above average electricity consumption.  

The implications for net employment are also devastating. Subsidy may create some soft UK jobs in the wind industry, and many more in China and the Middle East where wind turbines are made, but will not offset the loss of real UK jobs in other businesses that are no longer viable because of high energy costs. The net effect for the UK will be severely negative.

Dr Benny Peiser, the GWPF’s director, said:

"The PM’s pledge is a gift to the green lobby and a kick in the teeth for ordinary families and businesses who will have to pay a heavy price. Islington will be cheering, but the Red Wall will be spitting.”
4) Matt Ridley: What the Pandemic Has Taught Us About Science
The Wall Street Journal, 9 October 2020

The scientific method remains the best way to solve many problems, but bias, overconfidence and politics can sometimes lead scientists astray

The Covid-19 pandemic has stretched the bond between the public and the scientific profession as never before. Scientists have been revealed to be neither omniscient demigods whose opinions automatically outweigh all political disagreement, nor unscrupulous fraudsters pursuing a political agenda under a cloak of impartiality. Somewhere between the two lies the truth: Science is a flawed and all too human affair, but it can generate timeless truths, and reliable practical guidance, in a way that other approaches cannot.

In a lecture at Cornell University in 1964, the physicist Richard Feynman defined the scientific method. First, you guess, he said, to a ripple of laughter. Then you compute the consequences of your guess. Then you compare those consequences with the evidence from observations or experiments. “If [your guess] disagrees with experiment, it’s wrong. In that simple statement is the key to science. It does not make a difference how beautiful the guess is, how smart you are, who made the guess or what his name is…it’s wrong.”

So when people started falling ill last winter with a respiratory illness, some scientists guessed that a novel coronavirus was responsible. The evidence proved them right. Some guessed it had come from an animal sold in the Wuhan wildlife market. The evidence proved them wrong. Some guessed vaccines could be developed that would prevent infection. The jury is still out.

Seeing science as a game of guess-and-test clarifies what has been happening these past months. Science is not about pronouncing with certainty on the known facts of the world; it is about exploring the unknown by testing guesses, some of which prove wrong.

Bad practice can corrupt all stages of the process. Some scientists fall so in love with their guesses that they fail to test them against evidence. They just compute the consequences and stop there. Mathematical models are elaborate, formal guesses, and there has been a disturbing tendency in recent years to describe their output with words like data, result or outcome. They are nothing of the sort.

An epidemiological model developed last March at Imperial College London was treated by politicians as hard evidence that without lockdowns, the pandemic could kill 2.2 million Americans, 510,000 Britons and 96,000 Swedes. The Swedes tested the model against the real world and found it wanting: They decided to forgo a lockdown, and fewer than 6,000 have died there.

In general, science is much better at telling you about the past and the present than the future. As Philip Tetlock of the University of Pennsylvania and others have shown, forecasting economic, meteorological or epidemiological events more than a short time ahead continues to prove frustratingly hard, and experts are sometimes worse at it than amateurs, because they overemphasize their pet causal theories.

A second mistake is to gather flawed data. On May 22, the respected medical journals the Lancet and the New England Journal of Medicine published a study based on the medical records of 96,000 patients from 671 hospitals around the world that appeared to disprove the guess that the drug hydroxychloroquine could cure Covid-19. The study caused the World Health Organization to halt trials of the drug.

It then emerged, however, that the database came from Surgisphere, a small company with little track record, few employees and no independent scientific board. When challenged, Surgisphere failed to produce the raw data. The papers were retracted with abject apologies from the journals. Nor has hydroxychloroquine since been proven to work. Uncertainty about it persists.

A third problem is that data can be trustworthy but inadequate. Evidence-based medicine teaches doctors to fully trust only science based on the gold standard of randomized controlled trials. But there have been no randomized controlled trials on the wearing of masks to prevent the spread of respiratory diseases (though one is now under way in Denmark). In the West, unlike in Asia, there were months of disagreement this year about the value of masks, culminating in the somewhat desperate argument of mask foes that people might behave too complacently when wearing them. The scientific consensus is that the evidence is good enough and the inconvenience small enough that we need not wait for absolute certainty before advising people to wear masks.

This is an inverted form of the so-called precautionary principle, which holds that uncertainty about possible hazards is a strong reason to limit or ban new technologies. But the principle cuts both ways. If a course of action is known to be safe and cheap and might help to prevent or cure diseases—like wearing a face mask or taking vitamin D supplements, in the case of Covid-19—then uncertainty is no excuse for not trying it.

A fourth mistake is to gather data that are compatible with your guess but to ignore data that contest it. This is known as confirmation bias. You should test the proposition that all swans are white by looking for black ones, not by finding more white ones. Yet scientists “believe” in their guesses, so they often accumulate evidence compatible with them but discount as aberrations evidence that would falsify them—saying, for example, that black swans in Australia don’t count. [...]

As this example illustrates, one of the hardest questions a science commentator faces is when to take a heretic seriously. It’s tempting for established scientists to use arguments from authority to dismiss reasonable challenges, but not every maverick is a new Galileo. As the astronomer Carl Sagan once put it, “Too much openness and you accept every notion, idea and hypothesis—which is tantamount to knowing nothing. Too much skepticism—especially rejection of new ideas before they are adequately tested—and you’re not only unpleasantly grumpy, but also closed to the advance of science.” In other words, as some wit once put it, don’t be so open-minded that your brains fall out.

Peer review is supposed to be the device that guides us away from unreliable heretics. A scientific result is only reliable when reputable scholars have given it their approval. Dr. Yan’s report has not been peer reviewed. But in recent years, peer review’s reputation has been tarnished by a series of scandals. The Surgisphere study was peer reviewed, as was the study by Dr. Andrew Wakefield, hero of the anti-vaccine movement, claiming that the MMR vaccine (for measles, mumps and rubella) caused autism. Investigations show that peer review is often perfunctory rather than thorough; often exploited by chums to help each other; and frequently used by gatekeepers to exclude and extinguish legitimate minority scientific opinions in a field.

Herbert Ayres, an expert in operations research, summarized the problem well several decades ago: “As a referee of a paper that threatens to disrupt his life, [a professor] is in a conflict-of-interest position, pure and simple. Unless we’re convinced that he, we, and all our friends who referee have integrity in the upper fifth percentile of those who have so far qualified for sainthood, it is beyond naive to believe that censorship does not occur.” Rosalyn Yalow, winner of the Nobel Prize in medicine, was fond of displaying the letter she received in 1955 from the Journal of Clinical Investigation noting that the reviewers were “particularly emphatic in rejecting” her paper.

The health of science depends on tolerating, even encouraging, at least some disagreement. In practice, science is prevented from turning into religion not by asking scientists to challenge their own theories but by getting them to challenge each other, sometimes with gusto. Where science becomes political, as in climate change and Covid-19, this diversity of opinion is sometimes extinguished in the pursuit of a consensus to present to a politician or a press conference, and to deny the oxygen of publicity to cranks. This year has driven home as never before the message that there is no such thing as “the science”; there are different scientific views on how to suppress the virus.  [...]

Full essay ($)
5) And Finally: Prince William's Earthshot Prize
TalkRadio, 9 October 2020
Benny Peiser discusses the £50 million Earthshot Prize with Julia Heartley Brewer on her TalkRadio show


The London-based Global Warming Policy Forum is a world leading think tank on global warming policy issues. The GWPF newsletter is prepared by Director Dr Benny Peiser - for more information, please visit the website at

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