Argyll's online broadsheet.

OK – try some facts on me. But …

Comment posted Major environmental groups seriously compromised by wind developers’ cash by Dr Douglas McKenzie.

OK – try some facts on me. But if all they show is that wind is very efficient when there is no, err, wind then that is hardly earth shattering news.

Back to nuclear for a second. Let’s just say that we go big time for nuclear with a target of producing 80% of our electricity from this source. One of the drawbacks with nuclear is that it is basically best run at 100% and there is very little scope for rapid alterations in output. This makes it a great base load generator but it is poor at delivering rapid changes that the grid requires to meet fluctuating daily demand. To deal with peak loading we would also require a large hot spinning reserve of gas fired plants. When demand drops it is not economic (or indeed very practical) to vary nuclear output so plants will have to be taken off line and the generators provided with financial compensation for the power that they could supply (and are contracted to supply) but which the grid cannot take.

Because of the immense costs and financial risk in building nuclear plants, a heavy subsidy will be required to coax operators to build the plants.

Heavy opposition from NIMBYs is expected to slow the planning process down and greatly increase costs.

All of this sounds vaguely familiar……

Dr Douglas McKenzie also commented

  • I feel a bit sorry for Mr Haesler. He has obviously put a lot of time and thought into his submission but I’m afraid that it will just be stamped with “crank”.

    I am the last person to want to discourage people from voyages of discovery or to stifle free thinking but everyone has to recognise that persuasive arguments are ones free from errors, based on accepted and easily confirmed facts and are articulated in a concise, clear, coherent and focussed manner.

    Mr Haesler makes the common mistake of tilting at too many windmills simultaneously (literally!) whereas there is no real relation between his targets.

    The weather is far too good to spend any time with a detailed refutation of his points but I will just point to one thread of his argument. In the UK death rates are indeed higher in the winter and some of these are indeed due to cold. However, Mr Haesler’s portrayal of tens of thousands of pensioners freezing to death in a holocaust because of the SNP Governments’s support for wind power ignores some fundamental truths:

    1: extreme weather both hot and cold does increase death rates. While heat is rarely a major factor in Scotland, it is dangerously disingenuous to suggest that cold is a bigger killer of the elderly than heat. Try telling that to the relatives of the almost 15,000 French people who died directly because of the heatwave of 2003.

    2: While death rates in Scotland are higher in winter than summer, many of these have nothing to do with the direct effects of cold. Influenza is essentially a winter disease and this, along with a range of respiratory diseases (such as pneumonia) cause a major increase in mortality rates. Falls also become more common in icy weather (though you could claim this is a direct effect of cold).

    3: Fuel poverty is indeed a serious problem. However, railing against wind turbines as a cause of this is, to say the least, misguided. Gas is the source of almost half of the UK’s electricity generation (and a good portion of heating). Variation in wholesale prices for gas are much more important in terms of increasing fuel prices than the additional costs caused by the renewable levies (some of which are actually measures intended to alleviate fuel poverty in the elderly!). It also ignores the role of profit taking by the energy supply companies who behave suspiciously like a cartel when it comes to pricing.

    4: Renewables, by their nature, increase the energy resilience of the UK, making us less vulnerable to price fluctuations in imported gas. While electricity generated by wind is currently more expensive than gas, this situation is predicted to change as fossil fuel prices continue to rise (the wind never increases in price!). Having a sensible portion of our electricity supplied through renewables should help alleviate fuel poverty, not increase it.

    One question for the climate change deniers who make much of the fact that the highest recorded monthly temperature over the last few decades was recorded in 1998 (coinciding with a large El Nino event). What will your argument be when we record a higher monthly figure? Will you agree that temperatures are indeed rising? (as an aside, the annual mean temperatures are already higher than 1998 and the five year means show a clear and rapid warming trend):

  • It remains a good synopsis of the position – is there any point in the report you disagree with?

    Regarding the anemometry, I don’t know the area or the facts concerning this particular wind farm site but I reiterate that it would be a pretty thick developer that proposed building a wind farm without having a good idea what the wind speeds associated with that site were.

  • Beat me to it Tim!.

    The Scottish regulations require:
    Scottish Planning Policy 6 – Renewable Energy – requires local authorities to prepare maps and policies (known as ‘spatial frameworks’) to guide wind farm developments in their areas.

    A key principle of SPP6 is that wind farms should be accommodated where they can operate efficiently and environmental and cumulative impacts can be satisfactorily addressed.

    Without anemometer data you obviously cannot assess the suitability of the site. But the regulations only require suitable anemometer data to be available: it does not prescribe where the data comes from.

    In the example given, acceptable anemometer data was available.

    No apology required.

  • “Estimated costs per tonne of CO2 emissions reduced by CCS vary but range from about £30 to £90 without
    EOR.3 If the CO2 is used in EOR to recover more oil,
    these costs are reduced by an amount dependent on the oil price (£6-12/tCO2 for oil at $20/bbl).7 The cost of emission reduction using CCS are comparable with those of using offshore wind power or nuclear power.3
    Carbon emission reduction costs of about £50/tCO2 have been estimated to add about 1-3p/kWh to the costs of electricity generation (estimates of the cost of generating electricity from fossil fuel fired base-load plants without carbon capture have been estimated as 2.2-3.2p/kWh”


    It is not clear from the report if this includes the increased fuel costs or not and, as Tim says, this is a completely unproven technology whereas estimates for wind are pretty good though cost estimates for nuclear are a bit shaky as well.

    Bottom line is that CCS would not be cheaper than using all wind to meet government targets and may be considerably more expensive.

  • The Government was clever in having the headline grabbing target of producing all of Scotland’s electricity CONSUMPTION covered by renewables. Last year that was around 27,000 GWh whereas our production was 46,000 GWh. So the SNP Government’s target is to have about 50% of Scotland’s electricity being produced by renewables. A long way off being CO2 neutral.

Recent comments by Dr Douglas McKenzie

  • Rustle with Russell
    More utter rubbish from Lynda Henderson. Have you actually spoken to Bob Allen? Whoever told you the story sold you a pup and in your arrogance you cannot admit to be wrong so you make up this story that he was persuaded not to resign.

    Your position is completely untenable.

  • Russell back in the bathtub, now trying to sink Keith Brown’s boat
    I’m afraid you condemn yourself by your own words. I don’t think that anyone reading what you have written here and the language you have used would conclude anything other than that you have a deep dislike for Mr Russell and that dislike is leading you to basically lose all sense of either proportion or impartiality. It doesn’t matter how well (or otherwise) you know Mr Russell you are clearly exercised by your interpretation of his actions and it is leading you well beyond the pale in what I would consider fair comment.

    This vendetta against Mr Russell and the SNP is destroying FA’s credibility and I have to confess that I’m seriously considering whether or not to continue reading FA (which will cheer Malcolm up if nothing else). I for one am becoming increasingly disenchanted by the constant negativity and sheer nastiness that has crept into this blog. I say that with a lot more sorrow than anger because I think that FA could have been great and indeed still could but there has to be a degree of balance, civility and indeed humour. All we are getting here is bile and it is causing me heartburn.

  • Russell back in the bathtub, now trying to sink Keith Brown’s boat
    To be honest, this post clearly shows that you are speaking from your personal dislike of Mr Russell rather than an unbiased analysis of the man. Phrases such as “publicity hungry coward” are well beyond what is reasonable comment.
  • Russell back in the bathtub, now trying to sink Keith Brown’s boat
    You don’t seem to understand the separation of a MSP’s duty to his or her constituency and their responsibilities as a Government Minister.

    Yet again, this is another instance where a member of the Government can do no right: speak up and be condemned as “desperate” or stay silent and be accused of not serving your constituents’ interests.

    It is just as well that Mr Russell has broad shoulders!

  • Atlantic Islands Centre for Luing: biggest investment in island’s history
    Well done Luing – an inspiration to all of Argyll’s communities.

powered by SEO Super Comments

· · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · ·

Related Articles & Comments