Tuesday, June 04, 2013

British government  braced for MPs' rebellion over new 2030 carbon energy target

Radical policy not radical enough for some

Ministers are braced for a rebellion in the Commons over when to bring in strict new carbon-free targets for Britain’s power companies.

MPs will vote on Tuesday on whether to introduce an amendment to the Energy Bill which would commit the UK to have a “near carbon-free power sector” by 2030.

The MPs’ amendment would bring in the requirement almost immediately, whereas the Government is proposing separately to agree the target in 2016.

The backbench amendment would remove coal-fire and gas-fired power stations from their network unless they can capture and store their emissions.

Backers have said that cutting carbon emissions is needed to check changes in global weather conditions.

Many scientists believe that human activity that releases carbon into the atmosphere contributes to climate change.

Tim Yeo MP, the Conservative chairman of the Energy and Climate Change Committee, and Labour MP Barry Gardiner have been lobbying support for their amendment, which is due to be voted on around 4pm on Tuesday.

Westminster watchers said the vote could be close with the Government’s working majority of 32 slashed to just a single MP, by some calculations.

Campaigners said that as many as 20 Tory and Liberal Democrat MPs could vote in favour of the amendment. Late on Monday it emerged that Charles Kennedy, the former Lib Dem MP, was planning to back the amendment.

Lib Dem MPs are particularly likely to rebel because setting a 2030 target is party policy and is due to be discussed at a party policy meeting on Monday.

Shadow Chancellor Ed Balls used a speech on Monday to call on Lib Dems to back the amendment.

He said: “I call on every Liberal Democrat who supports a low carbon future to join us and vote with us to make this change happen.”

Duncan Brack MP, vice chairman of the federal policy committee, told PoliticsHome.com: “Many of us would like to see our MPs back the Yeo amendment because we believe the Chancellor’s stance on renewables has undermined the investment that’s needed. The Government needs to send a positive signal that it is committed to a low carbon future.”

Ed Davey, the Lib Dem Energy and Climate Change secretary, said that the amendment was not necessary to hit climate targets.  He said: “Everything in this Bill is based on the premise that we need to significantly decarbonise our power sector in order to meet climate targets.

“We secured a landmark agreement across the Coalition to treble support for low-carbon investment to £7.6 billion in 2020. And we are reforming the market to provide the certainty required to attract investment in renewables, new nuclear, CCS and demand reduction.

“We have listened to views and added a clause to enable us to set a decarbonisation target for the power sector in 2016.  “No political party had this issue in their manifesto, and this will be a world first, an issue that this Coalition Government has addressed head on.”


Eat less meat or face food shortage: Nannying British Liberal politicians

Utter rubbish! Aegentina and Australia will supply all the meat they want

Families should stop eating meat on a daily basis, MPs warn today.    Pork, lamb and beef should be 'occasional' indulgences rather than dinner-table staples.

They said the global surge in meat and cheese consumption was unsustainable, with the UK 'never more than a few days from a significant food shortage'.

The Commons international development committee said farmers should rear more animals on grass because livestock is land and energy intensive and grain should be saved for humans.

The report was branded 'naive, dangerous and bitterly disappointing' by farming unions. 'Livestock farming is an essential part of the fabric of the British countryside,' said Charles Sercombe of the NFU.

'We turn otherwise unused parts of land into food and protein that the public can eat as part of a balanced diet. We are using the land as efficiently as possible.

'With many farmers having been dealing with some of the most difficult conditions in years, to encourage the public not to eat meat is unhelpful to say the least.'

Phil Stocker of the National Sheep Association said: 'The vast majority of land used for sheep farming is not suitable for any other form of agriculture.

'Would it be more efficient just to leave the land and import our food? Of course not. Millions have grown up eating meat regularly and it is the public's right to serve what they like on their dinner table.'

But Sir Malcolm Bruce, the Lib Dem chairman of the Commons committee, said: 'With the UK never more than a few days away from a significant food shortage, UK consumers should also be encouraged over time to reduce how often they eat meat.

'There is no room for complacency about food security over the coming decades if UK consumers are to enjoy stable supplies and reasonable food prices.

'UK aid to help smallholders increase food production in the developing world is of direct benefit to UK consumers as rising world food prices will reduce living standards of hard-pressed UK consumers.'

The MPs are demanding ministers tackle food wastage – a study by the Institution of Mechanical Engineers found up to half the food bought from UK supermarkets goes in the bin, often when edible.

The committee's report on global food security said: 'We recommend the Government set targets for food waste reduction for producers and retailers and introduce sanctions for failure to meet the targets.'

On the topic of GM food, dubbed 'Frankenstein foods', the MPs recognised the technique was 'controversial' but added: 'GMOs have the potential to make a valuable contribution to food security.'

The committee raised concerns about the impact of biofuels – derived from plants such as sugar cane and maize – on the environment and on food prices.

Vast swathes of agricultural land are set aside to grow fuel crops, pushing up the price of staple goods. By law, at least 5 per cent of petrol and diesel sold on British forecourts must be biofuel.

The MPs called on ministers to consider using domestic stockpiles of food to protect against price hikes.

As well as claiming grain should be fed to humans instead of animals, vegetarians and green activists tell steak lovers livestock farming is a major source of harmful greenhouse gases.

But a study in 2010 found that going vegetarian may not be as green as it seems. The Cranfield University research found that switching from British-bred beef and lamb to meat substitutes imported from abroad such as tofu and Quorn would increase the amount of land cultivated.


Fracking  could make the UK self-sufficient in gas for at least 15 years

A fracking company has announced that more than ten times as much gas lies under the North West of England than previously believed - and it could make the UK self-sufficient for at least 15 years.

The exploratory energy company IGas has carried out technical studies which suggest the quantity of shale gas in parts of the UK have been vastly underestimated.

It holds a licence for an area of 300 square miles between Liverpool and Manchester and had previously calculated that more than 9 trillion cubic feet (tcf) of shale gas lay beneath the ground.

Fresh technical studies now point to there being as little as 15.1 tcf and as much as 172.3 tcf under the North West.  With the company’s best estimate suggesting there is more likely to be 102 tcf available through fracking.

Only a proportion of the total volume will be accessible to the shale gas industry but even if just 10 per cent of the North West’s reserves can be brought to the surface it could end the entire UK’s dependency on foreign imports for a decade.

Andrew Austin, the company’s chief executive, told the BBC: ‘We (Britain) import around 1.5 tcf, we consume around 3 tcf a year, assuming you could recover technically something like 10 to 15 percent of the shale gas in place, then it could move import dependency out for about 10 to 15 years.’

As of 2012, 2.5 million hydraulic fracturing jobs have been performed on oil and gas wells worldwide.

He added in a statement issued by IGas: ‘The announcement of the gas in place volumes of up to ca. 170tcf in our North West acreage follows the completion of a very thorough study by the IGas Technical team and supports our view that these licences have a very significant Shale Gas resource with the potential to transform the company and materially benefit the communities in which we operate.

‘The planned drilling programme, commencing later this year, will further refine these estimates and advance our understanding of this shale basin. We will in due course carry out further analysis and reinterpretation of existing seismic and subsurface data to evaluate the potentially prospective Shale resources in the East Midlands and Weald Basin licence areas.’

Shares in IGas rose to a four-month high of 107.5 pence on Monday morning, falling slightly later in the day but by mid-afternoon were still up by about 12 per cent on the previous day.

Drilling is planned for later this year, which would refine the estimates and the potential of the basin, the company said.

Analysts at Jefferies said that while the estimate range was large, the most likely forecast of about 100 tcf showed the significance of the licence, both relative to IGas's resource base and the UK's existing gas reserves.

"While only a portion of that will be recovered even in a success case (U.S. shale recovery factors generally estimated to be about 10-30 percent with current technology/development plans), total proven gas reserves of the UK are about 7 tcf, indicating the materiality of the potential," they said.

According to government figures, the UK's total current proven, probable and possible gas reserves stand at around 25 tcf, including 17 tcf of proven and probable gas.

Another energy company, Cuadrilla, announced two years ago that it believes 200 tcf of shale gas lie in its licence areas and that up to 30 per cent could be recovered.

The IGas estimate was, however, treated with skepticism by environmental group Greenpeace


Global cooling hits Europe

Warmists always tell us that warming causes drought so let's be logical about that

Five people have been killed and thousands have fled their homes as terrifying floods hit cities in Germany, Austria and the Czech Republic.

Officials across central Europe issued disaster warnings and scrambled to reinforce flood defences today as rivers swelled by days of heavy rain threatened to burst their banks.

Nine people are also missing in the extreme conditions as offices, schools and homes are all left deserted or completely under water. The historic city of Prague in the Czech Republic is on high alert and the zoo has been evacuated.

The Danube in the southeast German city of Passau is expected to rise to its highest level in 70 years today and a spokesman for the city's crisis centre said the situation has become 'extremely dramatic'.

Czech police said this weekend at least five people had died in this spate of flooding. Firefighters evacuated homes in western regions and in villages outside the capital today and yesterday, rescuing 200 people.

Czech officials said the waters of the Vltava river could reach critical levels in Prague and that special metal walls were being erected to prevent flooding.

The Charles Bridge - normally packed with tourists at this time of year - was closed to the public as were some other popular spots near the river at the foot of Prague Castle.

Interim Mayor Tomas Hudecek said they were shutting down eight stations of the capital's subway network and urging people not to travel to city.

The mayor said all nursery, elementary and high schools in the Czech capital will be closed today because of anticipated travel problems.

Flooding was also reported in Austria and water levels rose in Germany and Poland after heavy rain in central Europe over the past week swelled rivers.

In Germany, where at least four people have died or are missing, Chancellor Angela Merkel promised federal support for affected areas and said the army would be deployed if necessary.

The water level had risen by at least five meters in Munich.

Separately, at least three other people were reportedly missing. At least one person died and two were missing in Austria near Salzburg.

German news agency dpa reported that large stretches of the Rhine, Main and Neckar rivers have been closed to ship traffic.

Evacuations are also taking place in neighbouring Austria and Switzerland.

Rivers also were spilling over their banks in some rural areas of south-western Poland, and people have been evacuated.

Meteorologists are predicting the rainfall will ease in the coming days.


British Liberal attacks papers who report 'destructive' climate sceptics

Newspapers are wrong to give a “platform” for campaigners and groups that question whether climate change is caused by human activity, Ed Davey, the energy secretary, will say.

Mr Davey will attack “destructive and loudly clamouring scepticism” about climate change, and criticise parts of the media for the way they report that scepticism.

The minister’s comments come as MPs prepare to vote on a new legal target to cut carbon emissions from Britain’s power plants.

An amendment to the Energy Bill would commit the UK to have a “near carbon-free power sector” by 2030.

Backers of the amendment say that cutting carbon emissions is needed to check changes in global weather conditions.

Many scientists believe that human activity that releases carbon into the atmosphere contributes to climate change.

One recent survey of 12,000 academic papers on climate change found 97 per cent agree human activities are causing the planet to warm.

Some scientists and politicians question that consensus.

Last week, Tim Yeo, the chairman of the Commons Energy and Climate Change committee, said it was possible that “natural phases” in the climate may explain warming, and not human activity.

Lord Lawson of Blaby, a former Chancellor, has also questioned the consensus on climate change.

According to a speech text given to the BBC before its delivery, Mr Davey will attack newspapers who give what he says is undue space to reporting those who are sceptical about the climate consensus.

"Of course there will always be uncertainties within climate science and the need for research to continue.

"But some sections of the press are giving an uncritical campaigning platform to individuals and lobby groups,” the minister will say.

"This is not the serious science of challenging, checking and probing.

"This is destructive and loudly clamouring scepticism born of vested interest, nimbyism, publicity seeking contraversialism or sheer blinkered, dogmatic, political bloody-mindedness.

"This tendency will seize upon the normal expression of scientific uncertainty and portray it as proof that all climate change policy is hopelessly misguided.

He will add: "By selectively misreading the evidence, they seek to suggest that climate change has stopped so we can all relax and burn all the dirty fuel we want without a care.

"Those who argue against all the actions we are taking to reduce emissions, without any serious and viable alternative, are asking us to take a massive gamble with the planet our children will inherit, in the face of all the evidence, against overwhelming odds."

Some Conservative MPs say that the most important change required in energy policy is to allow more “fracking”, the extraction of shale gas from the earth.

Shale gas has transformed the energy market in the US, reducing American dependency on imported oil and gas, and some MPs say Britain could follow suit.

IGas, a company licensed to explore for shale gas in northern England, today claimed that reserves in the area are much larger than previously thought.

The company said there may be up to 170 trillion cubic feet of gas in the area. That is almost 20 times more than previously thought, and equal to more than 50 years of the UK’s current annual gas consumption.


Power plant comparison – coal-fired versus wind

I would like to show you something very important here, something that supporters of Renewable Power conveniently neglect to mention.  To demonstrate this, I’m going to construct a comparison between coal-fired power and wind power.

To do this comparison, I’m going to spend exactly the same amount of money both for the coal-fired plant and the wind plant, and because I live here in Australia, I’ll be doing it in Australian Dollars, but as the cost factor is not the part I’ll be drawing your attention to, that cost is mentioned just as an indicator, and for the sake of the exercise, the amounts will be the same both for the coal-fired plant and the wind plant, and at each stage I will give a careful explanation.

Pretending that money is really no object, let’s then construct one of those new technology large-scale coal-fired plants that are now being constructed in China, India, and at a number of other places around the World. These plants are the new technology USC (UltraSuperCritical) plants. The Chinese have now mastered the technology and these plants have been under construction in China for more than 4 years now.

While these plants are indeed coal-fired plants, because of the technology, they actually burn up to 15% less coal than equivalent existing older technology coal-fired plants. That’s 15% less coal being consumed, hence 15% less CO2 being emitted.

Because the technology produces larger amounts of high temperature high pressure steam, these plants can in fact drive generators that produce more power, again, another thing that the Chinese have succeeded in scaling up. While older technology plants typically can only drive generators that produce 660MW, these newer technology Chinese plants can drive generators that can produce 1000MW and more, previously only the province of large-scale nuclear power plants.

So, for the purpose of the exercise, we will be constructing a large-scale coal-fired plant with 2 of these size generators, hence the Total Capacity will be in that typical large-scale range of 2000MW plus.

Now, China can construct one of these plants for $1.2 Billion, a seemingly large amount. However, as everything is so cheap in China, especially labour costs, then there’s no way known that a plant of this nature can be constructed in the already Developed World for that price.

German Neurath new technology coal fired plant
So, we now have to look elsewhere for an actual plant of this nature being constructed in a place that could give us a good handle on what the true cost might be.
Germany is actually in the stages of constructing these new technology plants themselves. They have already gone down the path of Renewable power, and have seen, quite starkly, how it absolutely fails to deliver the power required on the basis required. So, Germany is now making plans to construct these new large-scale plants, almost 20 of them, in fact, and they actually now have a couple of them up and running, and supplying power to the grids in Germany.

One of those is the new unit at the Neurath plant. This plant actually has 2 generators capable of 1100MW, for a total output of 2200MW, so this is what I will be using for the sake of comparison.

Now, while the Chinese can do this for that $1.2 Billion, Germany has found that the cost for them is $3.4 Billion. (The plant actually cost the Germans €2.6 Billion.) Note how in the Developed World, a plant of this nature costs almost three times as much to construct as it costs in China.

So now we have a baseline for our comparison.  $3.4 Billion.

Okay then, knowing that, we are now going to spend exactly that same amount of money on Wind Power.

Now, unlike some Renewable Power supporters who do all their costings on modelling, LCOE (Levelised Cost Of Electricity) these paper exercises always gives false outcomes, making coal-fired power more expensive, as I explained in my earlier Guest Post here at this site, those same models also seem to come up with Wind Plants that are artificially cheaper, hence making coal-fired power look bad, and wind power look attractively so much better.

However, unlike those who use their clever models to do their paper comparisons, I use real World costings for real World Constructions.
In the same manner as I found a real World example for a new technology coal-fired plant, let’s then use a real World example for wind power.

Currently, here in Australia, there is a new proposal to construct a large-scale Wind Plant on King Island, off the North West coast of Tasmania, that large Island just to South of Mainland Australia.

This proposed plant will cost $2 Billion. For this amount, they will be constructing between 200 and 250 huge turbines. The height at the hub of each tower will be 105 metres, (341 feet) with a swept diameter of 90 Metres. The nacelle on top of the tower will hold a generator capable of delivering 3MW.

Now, while the proposal is not solid on its numbers, let’s go with the higher amount of turbines they hope to construct (250) for this $2 Billion. So now we have to scale this up to the original outlay, so for that $3.4 Billion, we’ll get 425 of those huge towers. Each will have 3MW turbine/generators, so now we have a total Capacity of 1275MW. Keep in mind here, that there’s not many wind plants of that size, so realistically, we are looking at 2 of these large-scale wind plants, but the main thing here is the original amount of money.

Now, straight up, you notice that even though the original cost is exactly the same, the wind plant only has a total capacity of 1275MW, while the coal-fired plant has a capacity of 2200MW, so right up front, this coal-fired plant is 72% larger in its total power.

That’s just the beginning, and while that alone is important enough, what is more important is not this up front total, the Nameplate Capacity, but the actual power delivered to the grids for consumption by all the sectors actually using the electricity.

This is the important thing I want to show you.

Now, the operation of the coal-fired plant is such that while ever the crushed and powdered coal is being fed into the furnace to make the steam to drive the turbine, the generator is always turning, and always delivering its maximum power. The only down time is for maintenance, when the whole unit is totally shut down. What is happening in the Chinese plants is that they are actually running at around a 92% Capacity Factor. Now while that is early days, the lifetime capacity of a plant of this nature is around 80%, and some might even say that could be on the low side, as efficiencies in the more modern technology see these type of plant operating quite efficiently with respect to delivery of power. In fact, an Australian plant, near where I live here in Rockhampton, the Stanwell plant had one of its units in full operation for just under three years, a World’s record for any power plant generator.

However, for the sake of this exercise, let’s go with that lower figure of 80%. That means that over one full year, this coal-fired plant with both units running can actually deliver 15,428GWH. (GigaWattHours)

A typical large-scale coal-fired power plant has a lifespan of 50 years. This can be (and more often than not is) extended out by a number of years, but hey, let’s go with that lower figure of 50 years.

So now, over the life of the plant, we have an actual power delivery of 771,408GWH or converted, 771TWH. (TeraWattHours)

Keep that number in mind. 771TWH

Now, let’s look at the Wind Plant. When the proposal is first submitted, nearly all of them quote the Capacity Factor (CF) at 38%. Once operational, very few wind plants actually achieve that. Most settle down in the early years to a CF of 30%, and as data from all across the Planet is becoming more known, then a CF of 20% is actually closer to the truth, and in fact, some Countries have that CF as low as 15%. But hey, in much the same manner as I went for worst case scenario for the coal-fired plant, let’s actually go with the higher figure here of 20%, best case scenario.

So now we have this (equivalent cost) wind plant of 1275MW delivering 2235GWH per year: Note how that compares with the delivery from the coal-fired plant of 15,428GWH.

We are told that these wind plants have a life span of 25 years. So now, we have a lifetime power delivery from this wind plant of 55,875GWH or 55.875TWH.

Say, will you look at that. The coal-fired plant delivers 771TWH during its life and the equivalent costing wind plant delivers only 56TWH.

So the coal-fired plant delivers 13.8 times as much power.

That is the important thing I wanted you all to see.




Preserving the graphics:  Graphics hotlinked to this site sometimes have only a short life and if I host graphics with blogspot, the graphics sometimes get shrunk down to illegibility.  From January 2011 on, therefore, I have posted a monthly copy of everything on this blog to a separate site where I can host text and graphics together -- which should make the graphics available even if they are no longer coming up on this site.  See  here and here


No comments: