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Tuesday, June 27, 2023

Net Zero Watch: Net Zero at risk after surge in wind energy costs

 





In this newsletter:

1) Net Zero at risk after surge in wind energy costs
The Sunday Telegraph, 25 June 2023
  

2) Nobody should say they haven't been warned
Global Warming Policy Foundation, 27 July 2019


3) Siemens Energy in meltdown as problems with faulty wind turbines knock nearly 7 billion euros ($7.6 billion) off its market value
Reuters, 23 June 2023
 
4) Rishi Sunak to hit households with £170 Net Zero green levy
The Sunday Telegraph, 25 June 2023
  
5) Scottish and UK governments urged to follow Sweden's nuclear ambition and scrap '100% renewable energy' target
Scottish Daily Express, 23 June 2023
  
6) UK investors eschew ESG for profits amid cost-of-living crisis
Peer2Peer Finance News, 23 June 2023
  
7) Editorial: Time to reconsider our approach to Net Zero
The Daily Telegraph, 24 June 2023
 
8) Tilak Doshi: The green movement and energy prices: The theory of “effective pain”
Forbes, 24 June 2023
  
9) And finally: Britain scraps pledge to legally ban coal
The Sunday Telegraph, 25 June 2023

Full details:

1) Net Zero at risk after surge in wind energy costs
The Sunday Telegraph, 25 June 2023





 






A string of offshore wind projects meant to power Britain are in jeopardy after the global race to net zero sent costs soaring, casting doubt over the industry’s future as a cheap source of energy.

A surge in supply chain costs has pushed up the price of wind turbines, while increases in global interest rates have raised refinancing costs substantially.

It has made several projects unviable just a year after they won government subsidy contracts – leading to fears from industry insiders that Britain’s future is in jeopardy as the “Saudi Arabia of wind”.

Inch Cape, a 50:50 joint venture between Ireland’s ESB and China’s Red Rock Power to develop a project located 15km off the east coast of Scotland, is understood to be at risk, with the Irish side refusing to proceed with a so-called final investment decision (FID) after balking at the economics of the project.

One source said: “People won’t invest if it doesn’t give you a decent return on equity. And presently, it’s hard to see how it can.”

Schemes developed by Danish company ├śrsted and Swedish player Vattenfall are among other projects understood to be at risk, as the industry seeks more government help to ensure projects remain viable.

Senior executives have also described Net Zero Secretary Grant Shapps as a “remote” figure who is reluctant to engage with company bosses.

The struggles faced by some of the biggest offshore wind developers raise fresh questions about whether the Government will achieve its target of 50GW of offshore wind by 2030, from current levels of around 14GW.

Full story
 
see also: Demands for more subsidy expose the illusion of falling wind power costs
 
2) Nobody should say they haven't been warned
Global Warming Policy Foundation, 27 July 2019

The British public is facing a doubling of electricity prices to bail out new wind farms. That’s according to Professor Gordon Hughes of Edinburgh University, who has analysed the latest data for wind farms coming on stream in the next few years.
 
“A number of large wind farms have contracts to supply power at extraordinarily low prices”, says Hughes. “But the cost and performance data suggest that they will be unable to cover their costs”.

Professor Hughes has compared Moray East – one of the new wind farms concerned – to a similar one that opened recently: 
 
“Moray East, currently under construction in northern Scotland, and Beatrice, which came on stream just a few months ago, use very similar turbines and are situated just next door to each other. There is nothing about Beatrice to suggest that costs or performance are out of the ordinary, yet it has a strike price nearly three times that of Moray East.”
 
According to Professor Hughes, the operators of Moray East will need to at least double their selling price if they are to break even. He says they are playing a high-stakes poker game with the government, with the government as patsy:
 
“They are probably gambling that if they threaten to go bust, the government will be forced to raise carbon taxes sharply. This will push market prices up, and the operators will simply walk away from their agreed contracts and trade at the new prices”.
 
This means that instead of seeing cheap renewables, the consumer will be hit by huge electricity price rises.  “There is a real possibility that we see the public take to the streets, just as the gilets jaunes are doing in France” says Professor Hughes.
 
Gordon Hughes: Who’s the Patsy? Offshore wind’s high-stakes poker game (PDF)

3) Siemens Energy in meltdown as problems with faulty wind turbines knock nearly 7 billion euros ($7.6 billion) off its market value
Reuters, 23 June 2023
















FRANKFURT/BERLIN (Reuters) -A record sell-off in Siemens Energy shares has laid bare a major loss of confidence by investors in the group's ability to fix its struggling wind turbine division, leaving them fearful of what else to expect down the road.

Siemens Energy's stock plunged by a third on Friday, knocking nearly 7 billion euros ($7.6 billion) off the group's market value, after it warned of deeper quality problems at Siemens Gamesa - just weeks after the group managed to acquire the remaining stake in the wind turbine unit.

The full takeover, first outlined last year, was the result of Siemens Energy's inability to address Siemens Gamesa's long-standing operational problems as the owner of a majority, but not 100%, stake in the separately listed entity - a structure inherited following the spin-off from Siemens.

The takeover of the remaining third it did not already own in Siemens Gamesa cost the German group 4.05 billion euros and was sold by Siemens Energy as a way to get a better handle on the problems.

"If there is reason to believe there are more skeletons in the closet than initially thought, I would wait before any takeover," Felix Schroeder of Siemens Energy shareholder Union Investment said.

Full story
 
We've known and warned about this problem for the last 5 years: Type Failure or Wear and Tear in European Offshore Wind?
 
4) Rishi Sunak to hit households with £170 Net Zero green levy
The Sunday Telegraph, 25 June 2023



 














Households will pay a £170-a-year green levy on energy bills in the coming days, with Rishi Sunak and Jeremy Hunt accused of “slyly” shifting costs back to consumers.

The Telegraph has learned that the two-year suspension of green levies announced last autumn is to end from the beginning of July, after just nine months.

The cost of the levies was shifted from consumer bills to be funded instead by the Government, following a year-long campaign by energy firms and MPs amid spiraling gas, electricity and food prices last year.

It will again be imposed on consumers, although there has been no formal announcement. Sir Jacob Rees-Mogg, who was business and energy secretary when the costs were taken away from consumers last year, said: “Green levies are part of the problem behind the UK’s particularly high electricity prices. They ought to be abolished but should fall on general taxation until that can happen. The ambition for net zero must not make us cold and poor.

“Any new or re-imposed charge ought to be announced to Parliament first and not slipped through slyly.”

The decision to fund the green levies via general taxation, as opposed to consumer bill payments, was announced by Kwasi Kwarteng, the then chancellor, when he unveiled the energy bailout used by the Government to subsidise consumer bills since its creation in October.

At the time, the Government said: “Schemes previously funded by green levies will also continue to be funded by the Government during this two-year period to ensure the UK’s investment in home-grown, secure renewable technologies continues.”

But the Treasury will stop funding the cost – which has risen from £150 last year to £170 now – from July, meaning that it will be borne by consumers once again. [...]

The disclosure prompted astonishment among senior Tories - particularly after Grant Shapps, the Net Zero Secretary, told The Telegraph on Saturday: “We know we need to fund this transition, but we don’t want to do it through household levies ... I don’t want to see people’s household bills unnecessarily bashed by this.”

Mr Shapps said he wanted to scrap plans for a new £120-a-year levy to fund the hydrogen industry. However, days after his remarks, consumers will once again be saddled with the £170-a-year cost of levies that fund other “green” schemes, ranging from the installation of home insulation, to historical contracts with wind farm developers...

Andrew Montford, director of the Net Zero Watch campaign group, said: “Shuffling costs from consumers to taxpayers and back to consumers again is a waste of everyone’s time and money. Green levies need to be cut, to give relief to the UK economy as a whole.”

Full story
 
5) Scottish and UK governments urged to follow Sweden's nuclear ambition and scrap '100% renewable energy' target
Scottish Daily Express, 23 June 2023



 








The Scottish and UK governments are facing calls to "follow Sweden's lead" after the Scandinavian nation cancelled its targets for "100% renewable energy". Sweden is often held up by the SNP as an inspiration for a Scexit Scotland.

Now Stockholm has announced a major shift to a more achievable and technology-neutral aspiration for "100% fossil-free" energy provision. This has been hailed as a major change of emphasis back to a society based on nuclear power.

Announcing the new policy in the Swedish parliament, finance minister Elisabeth Svantesson said: "This creates the conditions for nuclear power. We need more electricity production, we need clean electricity and we need a stable energy system."

Campaign group Net Zero Watch said: "The Swedish decision is an important step in the right direction, implicitly acknowledging the low quality of unstable wind and solar, and is part of a general collapse of confidence in the renewable energy agenda pioneered in the Nordic countries and in Germany.

"The United Kingdom has every reason to follow Sweden's lead but should go further. A small population in a large country such as Sweden can afford to reject fossil fuels, relying on nuclear and hydro and biomass, but the United Kingdom, and other substantial industrialised economies need to face the facts, and understand that only a gas to nuclear pathway is viable to remain industrialised and competitive."

Dr John Constable, NZW’s Energy Director, added: "Living close to Russia focuses the mind, and the Swedish people not only wish to join NATO but also to ground their economy in an energy source, nuclear, that is physically sound and secure, unlike renewables which are neither. For the time being the UK government continues to live in a fantasy of their own making, but we are coming to the end of the green dream."

Former UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said 100% of the country's electricity could come from renewables by 2035.

Full story
 
6) UK investors eschew ESG for profits amid cost-of-living crisis
Peer2Peer Finance News, 23 June 2023



 













Brits are less focused on the ethical, environmental and social impact of their investments than they were 12 months ago as they are prioritising profit, new research has shown.

38 per cent of UK investors said that ethical and green investments were important to them, down by six per cent from last year, according to the Investor Index.

The annual survey, which is conducted by communications agency AML Group and the research and planning experts, The Nursery, polled 1,100 UK adults who have a minimum of £10,000 invested.

The research also found that interest in vegan-friendly investments dropped sharply from 38 per cent to 22 per cent this year, while LGBTQ+ focused investments fell by four per cent. The demographic least focused on ethical investing is those aged 65 and over, with only one-quarter (24 per cent) prioritising ethical investments.

“The shift we’re seeing away from ESG priorities can be interpreted in several ways and will be an important trend to watch in the coming years,” said Pauline McGowan, head of strategy at The Nursery.

Full story 
 
7) Editorial: Time to reconsider our approach to Net Zero
The Daily Telegraph, 24 June 2023
 
The British people are already facing financial hardship. The Government should be prioritising cheap energy and reliable supplies

Rishi Sunak’s first Cabinet reshuffle saw the creation of the Department for Energy Security and Net Zero. Both objectives are admirable; the consequences of energy insecurity have been made painfully clear by Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, and we have a moral responsibility to preserve the environment for future generations of Britons to enjoy. But too often, these objectives appear to be in conflict. Energy security is not just a matter of cutting dependence on foreign suppliers, but ensuring that our new sources are reliable and affordable. Yet our approach to net zero seems to demand that the public pays higher prices for less reliable fuels. This is not a sustainable state of affairs.

It is reassuring that Energy Secretary Grant Shapps appears to acknowledge this. In an interview with The Daily Telegraph, Mr Shapps has indicated that he does not want to fund the expansion of the hydrogen industry through either general taxation or additions to our energy bills. This would be a much-needed dose of realism.

Yet the Government will need to go much further if it wishes to fully resolve the tension between its objectives of secure and affordable energy supplies. We should of course aim to cut carbon, but it is a bizarrely punishing approach to insist on the pursuit of an artificially imposed 2050 deadline at great expense even while Beijing continues to approve dozens of new coal power plants. This is particularly true when many businesses and consumers are independently moving towards greener practices simply through market forces, as the costs of eco-friendly technologies fall and the profit motive continues to drive innovation.

Centrally imposed “solutions” that drive up bills and lack the flexibility to accommodate new technological developments often fail to work in other policy areas without great cost; why would they succeed now?

There is an opportunity here for the Government to create a new dividing line in British politics, to be on the side of the ordinary voter by prioritising cheap energy and reliable supplies. The Tories could present themselves as a party that combines environmentally friendly policies with economic realism. Mr Sunak can take inspiration from Labour’s “Green Prosperity Plan” U-turn. When Rachel Reeves downgraded the £140 billion commitment to a mere ambition, it did not generate a backlash consistent with the scale of the announcement.

The British people are already facing great financial hardship, and the parlous state of the economy means this is likely to continue in the months leading up to the next election. Reconsidering the ruinous approach to net zero is a chance for the Government to show that it is taking this seriously.
 
8) Tilak Doshi: The green movement and energy prices: The theory of “effective pain”
Forbes, 24 June 2023

The Greens and parties pushing onerous climate change policies will be punished at the polls in some form or fashion. Enough is enough, the Joe Blows will say. It is our world, and we shall claim our place in it.

Your humble author has pretensions to theory and here is one for your consideration dear reader. Bear with me, but here it is in a nutshell. Governments and policymakers keep drumming it into our ears that fossil fuels are bad and will lead to the “end of days”. The ultimate cause of climate change, it is argued, appears in the form of oil, gas and coal. Ordinary Joe Blow will listen to the self-proclaimed climate change experts and their official sponsors. He will bear higher gasoline and electricity prices, higher airfares for his modest holidays, and even pay more for his beef since cows belch methane. After all, Joe Blow – a decent and humble fellow — wants to be a responsible inhabitant of the planet.
 
But there comes a point in time when the burden on Joe hits a nerve, that node of effective pain, when he explodes. It seems that is where the Germans are with the ban on oil and gas heating systems from 2024 by the Scholz coalition government. And ditto for the Americans with the loss of their natural gas cooking stoves threatened by the Biden Administration. Peak green seems to have come about as the shards of effective pain hit citizens in the West.
 
Let me elaborate.
 
The Green movement has been long in the making. Maurice Strong, a Canadian environmentalist and principal architect of the 1972 Stockholm conference – the first global summit to make the environment the central issue – proclaimed in 1997 that “If we don't change, our species will not survive... Frankly, we may get to the point where the only way of saving the world will be for industrial civilization to collapse.”
 
Strong’s prophetic words on industrial civilization are already seeing fruition. Germany, the epicenter of the Greens, is actively de-industrializing at the altar of “renewable” energy and “fighting” climate change as we speak. Former Economics Minister of Saxony-Anhalt Dr. Horst Rehberger of the FDP party, sharply critical of the country’s “energy transition” ambitions, said in 2021 that “Inexpensive and secure energy is essential for competitive industry. Expensive and unstable energy supply forces companies to migrate to other countries that allow competitive production with coal and nuclear energy.”

In an interview in 2020, Professor Fritz Vahrenholt – a towering if critical voice on German environmental policies — had this to say of the main party in the coalition government: “Unfortunately, the SPD no longer has its clientele in mind. There is already a party for the hip, green urban crowd. But the employees in the steel, chemical or car industry have been lost from sight. The little people will now be punished with a CO2 tax starting in January.”
 
Full post
 
9) And finally: Britain scraps pledge to legally ban coal
The Sunday Telegraph, 25 June 2023
 
Rishi Sunak has quietly scrapped the Government’s net zero pledge to pass a law banning coal power generation in Britain.

The Government no longer plans to legally outlaw coal from October 2024, a spokesman said, adding that legislation is “not necessary” because the owners of the country’s remaining coal power stations are set to close them before the deadline regardless.

Experts said that the change in position gives the Government wriggle room to fire up coal plants again in future should they be needed to prevent blackouts.

It is also likely to anger green campaigners, who have heavily criticised the use of coal plants to boost electricity supplies over the winter and this summer.

A government spokesman said: “The Government is committed to phasing out unabated coal generation by October 2024.

“As all UK coal generators have already committed to phasing out their coal operations, it is not necessary to legislate to deliver on this commitment.”

Ministers initially said that coal would be legally banned from 2025.

They then brought the cut-off forward by a year, in an announcement in the run-up to the Cop26 climate conference in November 2021, when the UK hosted more than 100 world leaders in Glasgow.

But the Department for Energy Security and Net Zero has now confirmed that no such law has been passed yet and that it has dropped plans to bring one forward.

Full story

The London-based Net Zero Watch is a campaign group set up to highlight and discuss the serious implications of expensive and poorly considered climate change policies. The Net Zero Watch newsletter is prepared by Director Dr Benny Peiser - for more information, please visit the website at www.netzerowatch.com.

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