Sunday, October 18, 2020

GWPF Newsletter: Lack Of Wind Sparks UK Energy Emergency Alert


National Grid Warns Lack Of Wind Could Plunge Britain Into Darkness

In this newsletter:

1) National Grid Warns Lack Of Wind Could Plunge Britain Into Darkness
Daily Mail, 15 October 2020

2) EU Leaders Divided Over New Climate Goals For 2030
Associated Press, 16 October 2020

3) Andrew Montford: How Is Britain’s Most Efficient Windfarm Doing?
GWPF Energy, 14 October 2020
4) Andrew Montford: Floating Windfarm To Sink Its Backers?
GWPF Energy, 15 October 2020 
5) Ronald Bailey: U.N. Reports 'Staggering Rise in Climate-Related Disasters'
Reason Online, 14 October 2020

6) Paul Homewood: UN Twists Climate Facts To Suit Its Own Agenda
The Conservative Woman, 16 October 2020
7) India, China & US Are The Biggest Climate Sceptics, Global Survey Reveals
Environmental Journal, 15 October 2020
8) BBC Pulls Climate Change Documentary After Farmers Complained Coverage Was Not Impartial
The Daily Telegraph, 15 October 2020
9) And Finally: European Central Bank To Consider Using 'Climate Risk' Instead of 'Market Neutrality', Says Lagarde
Financial Times, 14 October 2020

Full details:

1) National Grid Warns Lack Of Wind Could Plunge Britain Into Darkness
Daily Mail, 15 October 2020

Britain's electricity could be in short supply over the next few days because of a lack of wind.

Electricity grid operator National Grid warned 'unusually low wind output' and a series of power plant outages would squeeze the network until early next week, leaving it with less back-up power than normal.

National Grid said it would 'make sure there is enough generation' to prevent blackouts.

But the warning will also put pressure on the Government to invest in other power sources in addition to wind, which can be unreliable.

Last night National Grid said there was 'adequate' power for today and that it would keep monitoring the situation over the weekend.

The balance of wind-generated power in the electricity mix will drop to as low as 9 per cent and 10.5 per cent tomorrow and on Sunday respectively, before climbing back up to 51 per cent on Monday, the Energy & Climate Intelligence Unit (ECIU) estimates.

Wind power has sometimes provided up to 60 per cent of power in the grid. 

The UK has more offshore wind capacity than any other country – and power produced from the sector charges the equivalent of 4.5m homes each year. 

The ECIU reported that a number of gas plants, such as Cowes on the Isle of Wight and Shoreham, West Sussex, as well as a biomass plant in Lynemouth in Northumberland and at least one coal-operated plant, had seen generator failures. 

There are also two planned outages at two of the UK's nuclear reactors, Dungeness, Kent, and Hunterston B in North Ayrshire.

In a tweet, the National Grid Electricity System Operator said: 'Unusually low wind output coinciding with a number of generator outages means the cushion of space capacity we operate the system with has been reduced.

'We're exploring measures and actions to make sure there is enough generation available to increase our buffer capacity.'

It is the second warning from the grid operator in a month...

Full story 

Britain could face blackouts if the wind doesn't blow

* See also GWPF report 


2) EU Leaders Divided Over New Climate Goals For 2030
Associated Press, 16 October 2020

BRUSSELS — European Union leaders agreed Thursday they need to raise their climate ambition above the existing target but stopped short of endorsing a proposal to cut greenhouse gas emissions by at least 55% compared to 1990 levels.

Leaders discussed the proposal from the bloc’s executive arm on the first day of an EU summit in Brussels, and came to the conclusion that the updated goal should be achieved “collectively” to take into account the different energy mixes of member states.

According to the meeting’s conclusions, leaders will try to find a consensus during another meeting to be held in December, ahead of the adoption of the first-ever European climate law.
“All Member States will participate in this effort, taking into account national circumstances and considerations of fairness and solidarity,” the conclusions read.
The text was sufficiently vague to find a consensus and could open the door to tailor-made arrangements capable of clinching the approval of all 27 member states.
While the European Parliament pushes for an even greater 60% reduction in emissions, eastern EU countries that depend on coal for much of their energy needs are less enthusiastic. They worry about the social, environmental and economic costs of the transition to a greener economy. Poland last year did not commit to the EU’s 2050 climate neutrality goal and has asked for more details about the measures.
Full post
3) Andrew Montford: How Is Britain’s Most Efficient Windfarm Doing?
GWPF Energy, 14 October 2020

The UK’s most efficient* offshore windfarm is Kentish Flats, owned by the nationalised Swedish conglomerate Vattenfall, and situated just outside the Thames estuary, north of Whitstable. Its low costs are due to the very shallow waters in which it sits.

Strangely, being part of an industry that claims to be enjoying rapidly declining costs, Kentish Flats is not a new windfarm. In fact it was one of the UK’s first, commissioned in 2005. Later windfarms moved further offshore, in search of more reliable wind speeds, but were rewarded with higher costs and only marginally better output.

Kentish Flats’ management reckon the useful life of their wind turbines is 20 years, so the windfarm may close at some point in the next few years. It is probably no coincidence that 20 years is also the period for which the operators can claim subsidies. Just how generous the subsidy regime is can be seen from the windfarm’s 2017 results.
In that year, it made a profit before tax of £11 million, but as the notes to the accounts reveal, it also received £11.4 million in subsidies. A further £0.5 million of government grants is being written off each year. In other words, without state support, Kentish Flats would have lost £1 million. Recall that this is the UK’s lowest-cost offshore windfarm.

Note also that it is selling electricity at far above market prices; the 2018 accounts note a rise in prices from £95 to £122/MWh since the previous year, suggesting that a buyer willing to pay vastly over the odds – presumably within the Vattenfall group – had been found to cover up their embarrassment. Last year, that change was largely reversed, and the windfarm only managed to break even before subsidies.

Since Kentish Flats was built 15 years ago, the cost of building and operating an offshore windfarm in the UK has soared. In fact, if you look at those commissioned since 2010, they all have costs more than double those of Kentish Flats. And yet, as we can see, without its subsidies, Kentish Flats is marginally profitable at best. If we also took away its ability to sell at far-above market prices, it would be well and truly sunk.

What we can therefore say, with some certainty, is that the offshore wind fleet is, as a whole, destroying wealth at a remarkable pace. 

*In terms of levelised cost.
4) Andrew Montford: Floating Windfarm To Sink Its Backers?
GWPF Energy, 15 October 2020 

A megawatt of gas-fired power station comes with a capital cost of perhaps £0.6 million. You can run such a power station flat out – upwards of 90% of the time – giving you very cheap electricity.

But of course that’s not what the political establishment has done. Instead, successive governments have promoted renewables. Onshore windfarm capacity is three times the price, and they only run 30% of the time, at best.
As if that wasn’t bad enough, the political establishment has gone for offshore wind too. This is about 5-6 times the capital cost of gas turbines, although the stronger winds at sea mean that they run on average over 40% of the time.
It’s true that windfarms don’t need fuel, of course, but they also necessitate expensive interventions to balance the grid, and they also mean that gas turbines can no longer run flat out, making them much less efficient.
That’s bad, but the political establishment clearly feels that it’s a case of “not bad enough”. The latest wheeze is floating offshore windfarms, an example of which is the Kincardine Floating Windfarm, the largest such in the world, which has just announced its annual results.
It’s fair to say that things are not going well. With a capacity of 50 MW, the windfarm is tiny, but when it was first announced it came with an astonishing price tag of £250 million, making its capacity eight times the price of gas, while potentially only running half as often.
Unfortunately, the cost has risen further still. First to £350 million, and it is now reported that the management think the final bill could end up at £500 million. That would amount to £10 million per megawatt, or nearly seventeen times what a megawatt of gas capacity would cost.
Only those inside the political bubble could think this was a good idea.
Still, if it’s any comfort to consumers angry that they will be picking up the bill for this foolishness, it turns out that one of the main backers of the Kincardine project is himself a member of the political establishment; the Liberal Democrat peer Nicol Stephen. If he is paying the price for believing his own party’s green PR then few will sympathise.
5) Ronald Bailey: U.N. Reports 'Staggering Rise in Climate-Related Disasters'
Reason Online, 14 October 2020

And yet, fewer lives are being lost with no increase in proportional economic losses.

"We are turning our only home into an uninhabitable hell for millions of people," assert the authors of "Human Cost of Disasters 2000-2019," a new report issued on behalf of the United Nations (U.N.) Office of Disaster Risk Reduction. "This report focuses primarily on the staggering rise in climate-related disasters over the last twenty years," the authors add. The report is based on data collected in the Emergency Events Database (EM-DAT) curated by the Centre for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters located at the Catholic University of Louvain in Belgium.

The U.N. and Louvain researchers tally the toll of death and destruction from all natural disasters over the past 20 years. Between 2000 to 2019, there were 7,348 major recorded natural disaster events killing 1.23 million people with economic losses amounting to approximately $2.97 trillion. In contrast, between 1980 and 1999 there were only 4,212 natural disasters that killed 1.19 million people and resulted in $1.63 trillion in losses.

The report observes that floods and storms were by far the most prevalent events. "The last 20 years has seen the number of major floods more than double, from 1,389 to 3,254, while the incidence of storms grew from 1,457 to 2,034," notes the accompanying press release. "This is clear evidence that in a world where the global average temperature in 2019 was 1.1 ̊C above the pre-industrial period, the impacts are being felt in the increased frequency of extreme weather events including heatwaves, droughts, flooding, winter storms, hurricanes, and wildfires," declares the report. It is worth noting that 58 percent of disaster deaths between 2000 and 2019 were the result of earthquakes.
Let's take a look at the evidence for how rising average global temperature specifically is affecting humanity. First, the report observes that between 2000 and 2019, there were 510,837 deaths associated with 6,681 climate-related disasters. However, the researchers note 3,656 climate-related disasters recorded between 1980 and 1999 resulted in 995,330 deaths. In other words, according to EM-DAT data, climate-related deaths in the two periods fell by nearly half while such disasters nearly doubled.

What about the upward trend in economic losses from natural disasters? According to the Human Cost report, such cumulated losses increased by 82 percent in inflation-adjusted dollars between the two 20-year periods. Interestingly, gross world product roughly grew by 82 percent in inflation-adjusted dollars between 1999 and 2019.

To get a better handle on the question of whether climate change is adding to the destruction wreaked by natural disasters, researchers seek to "normalize" the losses by attempting to estimate direct economic costs from a historical storm as if that same event were to occur under contemporary social conditions. For example, far more people live in Florida now than 50 years ago, with lots more houses and businesses, so hurricanes that strike there today are more likely to cause more significant economic losses than those than hit that state in the 1920s.

In a July 2020 article in Environmental Hazards reviewing the findings of 54 different disaster loss normalization studies, University of Colorado researcher Roger Pielke, Jr. reports, "A very strong, bottom-line conclusion across the normalisation literature is that evidence of a signal of human-caused climate change in the form of increased global economic losses from more frequent or more intense weather extremes has not yet been detected. This does not mean that such a signal does not exist, but rather, it may be too small to yet detect."

Pielke adds, "Regrettably, scientific and public discussion of normalisation research and associated extreme weather has become deeply politicised, with opponents to climate action sometimes misusing normalisation research results to suggest human-caused climate change is not occurring. Similarly, some advocates for climate action see the results of normalisation research as a threat to an agenda that emphasizes the influence of accumulating greenhouse gases on every extreme event, with claims often going well beyond what science presently supports."

The upshot is that humanity is losing more houses and infrastructure to bad weather largely because a richer and more populous world has put much more property in harm's way. Once you adjust for that, the proportion of assets damaged by storms and floods possibly amplified by climate change is not yet appreciably increasing. Even better news is that as a result of rising wealth and improving technologies, fewer people over the past decades are dying from weather disasters. Pielke is right when he concludes, "Overall, improved adaptive capacity and declining vulnerability suggest optimism for our collective ability to respond to a changing and uncertain climate future."

Perhaps the world will not become an uninhabitable hell after all.
6) Paul Homewood: UN Twists Climate Facts To Suit Its Own Agenda
The Conservative Woman, 16 October 2020

A report from the United Nations claims that there has been a ‘staggering rise in climate emergencies in the last 20 years’.
According to the report, ‘The Human Cost of Disasters’, there have been 7,348 recorded ‘disaster events’ worldwide during the last two decades, compared with 4,212 in the previous 20 years between 1980 and 1999. Most of these are said to be weather-related.

The claims have been met with astonishment and ridicule by experts, who have pointed out that the report itself contradicts its central claim with a graph showing that the number of disasters has been falling since 2000:

Benny Peiser, director of the Global Warming Policy Forum, has called for the report to be withdrawn. He said: "It’s a shambles; a catalogue of errors. The UN should withdraw the report immediately and apologise for misleading the public in this way."

Professor Roger Pielke Jr, a US-based expert in natural disasters, pointed out  that the UN was misusing the source data, which measures human impacts of natural disasters rather than natural disasters themselves. He calls its conclusions ‘flawed’.
The UN report is based on data collected by the Emergency Events Database (EM-DAT), maintained by the Centre for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters (CRED) in Belgium. There have been major changes in the way disaster events have been recorded and logged by EM-DAT over the years.
Earlier annual reports from CRED, such as in 2004 and 2006, acknowledged that many disasters were not recorded in the past. The 2004 report noted: "Over the past 30 years, development in telecommunications, media and increased international co-operation has played a critical role in the number of disasters reported at an international level. In addition, increases in humanitarian funds have encouraged reporting of more disasters, especially smaller events that were previously managed locally."

CRED began publishing statistics on disasters only in 1998, and that year coincided with a doubling in the number of disasters recorded, mainly due to more comprehensive reporting.

EM-DAT’s current definition of a disaster includes small local events affecting more than 100 people with ten or more reported killed. Thousands of such events may have gone unrecorded by EM-DAT in the past when methods were much more ad hoc, and before the days of the internet.

The datasets about the two different periods are therefore too different in quality, says Pielke. "You should not draw any conclusions about a changing frequency in climatic extremes on the basis of this dataset."
The UN claims are contradicted by the IPCC, whose reports consistently state that there has not been a change in the intensity of most weather extremes, and this is confirmed by Pielke’s own rigorous studies. Time and again he has shown that despite an increase in financial damage from natural disasters, there has not been a change in the intensity of most weather extremes. Increasing damage is down to the growth of population, real estate and properties in vulnerable areas.

The UN report is heavily politicised, and some of the language seems to have been inspired by the likes of Extinction Rebellion. Co-author  Mami Mizutori, head of the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction, claims:
"Disaster management agencies have succeeded in saving many lives through improved preparedness and the dedication of staff and volunteers. But the odds continue to be stacked against them, in particular by industrial nations that are failing miserably on reducing greenhouse gas emissions," adding that it was ‘baffling’ that nations were continuing knowingly "to sow the seeds of our own destruction, despite the science and evidence that we are turning our only home into an uninhabitable hell for millions of people".

Language such as this is not backed up by any credible data.
It is hard not to draw the conclusion that the purpose of this report has more to do with furthering the UN’s political agenda, rather than an objective analysis of the facts.
More detail on the UN report can be seen here.
7) India, China & US Are The Biggest Climate Sceptics, Global Survey Reveals
Environmental Journal, 15 October 2020
India, China and the US are the biggest climate sceptics despite being three of the world’s biggest producers of emissions, according to a new survey conducted across 142 countries. 
Climate change is widely understood as offering an existential threat to life on earth (sic), however, a new survey conducted by global charity Lloyd’s Register Foundation reveals worrying levels of scepticism.

The survey which involved over 150,000 people from 142 different countries revealed that only 41% of people see climate change as ‘a very serious threat to their country,’ with 28% ‘somewhat concerned’ and 13% believing it is ‘no threat at all.’

The researchers found that the highest levels of scepticism occur in the world’s biggest producers of emissions, with 21% of those living in the US listing it as ‘no threat at all,’ alongside 19% in India and 30% in China.
Full story
8) BBC Pulls Climate Change Documentary After Farmers Complained Coverage Was Not Impartial
The Daily Telegraph, 15 October 2020

The BBC has pulled a climate change documentary from iPlayer after farmers complained that the coverage of the meat industry was not impartial.

The documentary Meat: A Threat To Our Planet? featured presenter Liz Bonnin visiting factory farms in the United States and South America. She was viewed crying, and said that filming the show had caused her to go mostly vegan.

However, British farmers complained that the BBC show did not show the eco-friendly farming that takes place in Britain or make enough distinctions between cattle ranching in the Amazon and grass-fed regenerative beef farming in the UK.

The National Farmers' Union lodged a formal impartiality complaint, arguing that the show implies that all meat consumption is devastating for the planet.

The Editorial Complaints Unit (ECU) at the broadcaster has now found the show breached impartiality rules on controversial subjects.

Full story (£)
9) And Finally: European Central Bank To Consider Using 'Climate Risk' Instead of 'Market Neutrality', Says Lagarde
Financial Times, 14 October 2020

The European Central Bank will consider ditching a key principle behind its corporate bond purchases to offset the underpricing of climate risk in financial markets, Christine Lagarde has said.

ECB president Christine Lagarde urged central bankers to ask themselves if they were taking ‘excessive risk’ by trusting markets to price environmental issues © AFP via Getty Images
Since the ECB started buying corporate bonds in June 2016 it has adhered to the “market neutrality” principle, which aims to avoid distorting relative pricing of securities by only purchasing them in proportion to the overall eligible market. 

However, environmental campaigners accuse the ECB of reinforcing the market’s bias in favour of heavy carbon-emitters such as oil and gas companies, utilities and airlines because these sectors issue more bonds than most others.

The ECB president said in an online video appearance on Wednesday: “In the face of what I call the market failures, it is a question that we have to ask ourselves as to whether market neutrality should be the actual principle that drives our monetary policy portfolio management.”

She told an online event organised by the United Nations Environment Programme Finance Initiative that “more needs to be done because it is probably the case that financial markets by themselves are not actually measuring the risk properly and have not priced it in”.

However, she added that no decision had been taken about the potential changes, which she said would be examined as part of the ECB’s strategy review — which is due to be completed by the middle of next year.
Full story (£)

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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