Monday, July 15, 2013

Warmists squib it again

Warmists sometimes express a willingness to engage in debate with skeptics but almost always  back out before it happens. One imagines that in preparation for the debate they read some of their opponents' writings and realize how weak their own case is.  They realize that they will lose!

It has happened again.  Sir Paul Nurse, head of Britain's Royal Society, grandly offered to help out Lord Lawson's Global Warming Policy Foundation by putting him in touch with scientists who would explain to him what he was missing by being skeptical. One imagines that Lord Lawson was rather amused by that folly but he welcomed it and tried to organize the offered discussion between Nurse's nominees and some prominent skeptics. The Press Release below shows how far that has gone

Lord Lawson, the chairman of the Global Warming Policy Foundation (GWPF), has invited five Fellows of the Royal Society to meet him and his team in the House of Lords to discuss issues surrounding climate science and policy.

The five climate scientists, nominated by Sir Paul Nurse, the President of the Royal Society, refused an earlier invitation to meet with the Director of the GWPF, Dr Peiser, and a small group of experts nominated by the GWPF. Although they gave no reason for their unwillingness to engage, the Fellows stated they would be happy to ‘advise’ Lord Lawson personally.

Lord Lawson said he was willing to give the Royal Society a last chance to engage in a genuine dialogue, at which he would be personally present. “If this [invitation] is not acceptable, I can only conclude that, regrettably, you and your colleagues are unwilling to engage in genuine discussion and debate about this important issue.”


Sceptical British energy minister fired

For sounding a warning that was later vindicated

Tory MP John Hayes was fired as Energy Minister for secretly plotting to persuade an electricity boss to challenge Government policy.

Climate change sceptic Mr Hayes had asked the head of power giants  E.on to warn of blackouts unless the Coalition watered down its green crusade and made a U-turn on the closure of coal-fired generators.

But Mr Hayes’s boss, Energy Secretary Ed Davey, hit the roof when he found out about the ‘treachery’ – and demanded he was sacked.

Two weeks later, Mr Hayes was dismissed and given a minor backroom role in No. 10, advising David Cameron on links with Tory MPs.

But his dire warnings about energy shortages were later vindicated by regulator Ofgem, which warned of an even bigger risk of power cuts.

The feud was kept secret by Downing Street to avoid exposing Coalition tensions over climate change and Europe. An EU directive to encourage ‘cleaner’ energy is behind the closure of coal-fired stations.

At the time of Mr Hayes’s sacking, both Mr Cameron and Lib Dem Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg denied he had been forced out, or that there was a row with Mr Davey.

But The Mail on Sunday has established that he was demoted after he secretly met E.on chief executive Tony Cocker on March 13 and urged him to help postpone the closure of power stations such as Kingsnorth in Kent.

The meeting came after Mr Davey had rejected pleas by Mr Hayes to use the UK’s right to opt out of EU measures.

Mr Hayes was accompanied to the meeting by a senior civil servant, though it is not known how it was leaked to Mr Davey. Sources close to Mr Hayes say he was encouraged privately by Mr Cameron to press to delay the closure of coal-fired power stations to avoid an energy crisis.

‘John said the PM agreed that the energy crisis was getting worse,’ said a source close to Mr Hayes. ‘And Lib Dems are more interested in impractical green policies and not upsetting their friends in Brussels than keeping the lights on.’


Strange religious logic in the U.S. bureaucracy:  "Climate change causing energy disruptions"

There is an extended wail below about recent bad weather events and an assertion that they are caused by global warming and therefore presage more such events.  BUT, even top Warmists like Hansen and Pachauri have conceded that there has been NO warming for 17 years.  So the bad weather CANNOT have been caused by warming, since there has been no warming.

It would appear that the U.S. bureaucracy is in the grip of some sort of old fashioned revival hour or is simply 17 years behind the times.  I won't suggest that they are just political hacks!  Whatever drives them, the foundation of their dire prophecies just does not exist.

They do at one stage claim that 2012 was the warmest year for a long time but forget to mention that it was warmer only by  hundredths of one degree.  Differences that small convey stability, not change

Climate change and extreme weather already are causing disruptions in the U.S. energy supply that are likely to worsen as more intense storms, higher temperatures and more frequent droughts occur, the government says in a new report.

The report, released Thursday by the Energy Department, says blackouts and other problems caused by Superstorm Sandy and other extreme weather events are likely to be repeated across the country as an aging energy infrastructure struggles to adapt to rising seas, higher storm surges and increased flooding. A range of energy sources are at risk, from coal-fired power plants to oil wells, hydroelectric dams and nuclear power plants.

Climate-related disasters have already costs tens of billions of dollars, and the report says costs could grow exponentially unless a more comprehensive and accelerated response is adopted.

On the Gulf Coast, for instance, the report cites a study by an energy company and wetland foundation projecting that by 2030, nearly $1 trillion in energy assets in the region will be at risk from rising sea levels and more intense hurricanes. Based on an analysis of hazards, assets and vulnerabilities, the Gulf Coast energy sector faces an average annual loss from climate change and extreme weather of $8 billion in 2030, the report said.

The report urges private companies, governments and research institutions to take action to further understand the risks of climate change and reduce them. The report does not offer immediate recommendations, but says power plants and oil companies should use less water and recycle what they use.

Electricity providers should harden transmission grids and build emergency backup systems, the report says, and operators of hydroelectric dams should improve turbine efficiency. The report also recommends that governments and utilities work together to reduce demand for electricity.

"Water is obviously the big question," said Jonathan Pershing, deputy assistant secretary of energy for climate change policy and technology, who oversaw the report. "In drought you don't have enough water. As seas rise, you have too much."

While the risks from drought, floods and hurricanes are clear, water plays an important role in less obvious ways as well, Pershing said. Both coal-fired and nuclear power plants, for instance, need large volumes of water for cooling. As temperatures rise, that becomes more difficult.

The report cites several examples from 2012, the hottest year in the United States since record-keeping began in 1895:

— In August, a nuclear power station in Connecticut shut down one reactor because the temperature of the intake cooling water, withdrawn from Long Island Sound, was too high. The two-week shutdown resulted in the loss of 255,000 megawatt-hours of power, worth several million dollars, the report said.

—In the Midwest, drought and low river water depths disrupted the transportation of commodities, such as petroleum and coal, delivered by barges along the Mississippi River.

—In California, reduced snowpack in the Sierra Nevada mountains limited hydroelectric power generation capacity by about 8 percent.

"Costs are already happening and it's getting worse," Pershing said. "We are seeing damages across all parts of the energy sector."

Rising heat in the West will drive a steep increase in demand for air conditioning, which has already forced blackouts and brownouts in some places, the report said. The Energy Department's Argonne National Laboratory found that air conditioning demand in the West will require 34 gigawatts of new electricity generating capacity by 2050, equivalent to the construction of 100 power plants.

The report sends a "significant message about the risks and vulnerabilities" facing the U.S. energy sector, Pershing said. It should provide a blueprint for states and municipalities to consider, along with utilities and other energy providers and even consumers, who can do their part by reducing energy use or seeking alternative forms of energy, he said.

The report is the first of many to be produced across a range of economic sectors as the Obama administration responds to climate change and makes recommendations, Pershing said.

President Barack Obama announced a wide-ranging plan last month to combat global warming. The plan for the first time would put limits on carbon pollution from new and existing power plants as well as boost renewable energy production on federal lands, increase efficiency standards and prepare communities to deal with higher temperatures.


Tax break boost for shale gas explorers in Britain

Brtain’s push for shale gas will step up a gear this week as ministers unveil long-awaited details of tax breaks for fracking and pledge to cut red tape for the industry.

The Government is keen to see exploration work begin to test the potential of vast shale gas deposits, which they hope could provide an important new source of gas for the UK.

The British Geological Survey said last month there could be 1,300 trillion cubic feet of gas in northern England alone. If just 10pc could be extracted it could meet Britain’s needs for more than four decades.

Ministers have pledged to launch a consultation before Parliament rises for summer recess this week on details of tax breaks, first touted in October last year. The proposed allowance would see a certain portion of income from each shale gas “pad” — or production site – receive an effective rax rate of 30pc, rather than 62pc.

They have also promised guidance on planning rules for shale gas developments and to cut environmental permitting processes from 13 weeks to less than a fortnight.

Andrew Austin, chief executive of shale explorer IGas, said he was hopeful of a “sensible set of proposals which will allow the safe appraisal of the country’s shale resources”.

Richard Griffiths, energy specialist at law firm Pinsent Masons, said this week would be a “turning point for shale gas”. He said ministers may yet change their mind on a decision not to recognise shale projects as “nationally significant” for planning.


Court Strikes Down EPA Delay on Biomass Power Plant Standard

A federal appeals court on Friday put pressure on the Environmental Protection Agency to move quickly on a rule that addresses carbon-dioxide emissions from power plants that burn timber and agricultural waste to generate electricity.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit struck down an EPA rule postponing greenhouse-gas standards for new biomass power plants, but it didn't specify a timetable for the agency to act. The court said the EPA had failed to justify its reasons for the delay.

The ruling comes just weeks after President Barack Obama unveiled a broad new plan to address climate change, targeting mostly emissions from power plants that burn coal or natural gas.

Friday's decision could also have a direct impact on a handful of new facilities that recently obtained permits or are in the process of getting them now.

"Our industry needs regulatory certainty so that biomass resources can be utilized to their fullest extent," said Bob Cleaves, president of the Biomass Power Association.

EPA spokeswoman Enesta Jones said the agency "will review the decision to determine any next steps."

At issue is the EPA's 2011 decision to postpone a greenhouse gas rule for "biogenic" sources of carbon dioxide—that is, emissions that come from materials other than fossil fuels.

The EPA said at the time it needed three years to study these emissions because their net effect on the environment is difficult to calculate. Part of the equation, the agency says, is figuring out much carbon dioxide trees and other biological materials absorb from the atmosphere before being decomposed or burned, emitting carbon dioxide back into the atmosphere.

Biomass power plants are one large source of these emissions, but landfills, ethanol producers and other facilities also emit carbon dioxide.

The industry says biomass plants are far better for the environment than facilities that burn fossil fuels, but critics disagree.

Kevin Bundy, senior attorney with the Center for Biological Diversity, the group that sued the EPA, said the emissions still needed to be addressed. "There has been a huge push over the last few years to build these wood-fired power plants, under the theory that it's clean power," Mr. Bundy said. "Our real concern is that this rush to build these plants will actually make the climate problem worse."


Britain now using emergency diesels to generate grid electricity

Inefficient and polluting.  But it adds up to a juicy new tax on power users

The Government is set to make a windfall profit of hundreds of millions of pounds out of a lucrative scheme to sell power from thousands of the emergency diesel generators it owns to the National Grid. The cash will come from using them to guard against the times when the wind is too low to drive the expanding fleet of wind turbines, so staving off widespread blackouts.

Public buildings, including NHS hospitals, prisons, Army barracks and RAF bases, police and fire headquarters, schools and council offices equipped with emergency generators are to be asked to make them available on 20-minute standby to back-up the grid when supply is short. For this, they will be paid premium rates, soon to rise to the equivalent of £600 per Megawatt hour (MWh) of electricity produced.

This is more than 12 times the rate currently paid to ordinary power station operators, and six times the rate paid to inshore wind farm owners. Potentially, this makes Government-owed generators worth hundreds of millions to George Osborne. But it also represents another "stealth tax" on hard-pressed electricity consumers, brought about by the increasing reliance on wind power which is already heavily subsidised.

The scheme, managed by National Grid, is known as the Short Term Operational Reserve (STOR).  It is better known in the private sector, where it is part of what is sometimes called "Demand Response" or even "Demand Side Response" (DSR). But the Government involvement is the real explanation behind our report on the Guardian finding that four NHS hospitals had "signed up to a deal under which they will reduce demand at peak times by using diesel-fired generators".

What the Guardian was seeing was the front end of a contract agreed earlier this year between the Government Procurement Service (GPS) and five leading electricity demand management companies called  "aggregators". These highly specialist companies are ready to exploit the huge back-up bonanza created by the wind industry, turning the Government, potentially, into one of the largest providers of reserve electricity in the country. This turns privatisation on its head.

One of the aggregators which featured in the Guardian piece was KiWi Power. To administer the contract, it is working alongside another of Britain's leading aggregators, Flexitricty, which appeared in the Financial Times on 6 September 2010, claiming that private industry "can make millions of pounds annually, and help reduce the UK's carbon footprint, by selling spare electricity to the National Grid".

Now, Government is getting in on the act, alongside private sector firms, all part of what is called "Demand Side Response" of which the National Grid's "Short Term Operating Reserve" (STOR) is part.

In particular, the Government and the aggregators are benefiting from the National Grid's Aggegrator Model in STOR, introduced in December 2010, a new set of rules which effectively kick-started a new and highly lucrative electricity back-up  industry.

The rules, approved by the Coalition Government, were designed to encourage new entrants into the "reserve" market, to meet the desperate need to compensate for the intermittency of wind farms and their unpredictable performance. This ups the reserve capacity available from about 2GW to 8GW by 2020 - equivalent to five nuclear power plants. Without it, the system will be destabilised by the wind power, leading to localised and general collapse and prolonged blackouts.

Previously, National Grid would  only take units of 3MW or more, and there was no provision to use smaller amounts of power. But, under the new rules, aggregators can collect units as low as 500KW generated by individual clients, such as a single hospital (a 1MW generator fitted in Chelsea and Westminster Hospital is illustrated immediately above), or an RAF base (pictured at the very top of this piece are newly installed CAT generators at RAF Valley). The "aggregated" power can then be sold to the grid.

Traditionally, only large industrial users could send power to the Grid. But this Government contract will rely on "smart grid" technology, which makes it possible to manage multiple small inputs from thousands of different suppliers. Remote generators are fitted with computer controls which are linked to the internet to form a network or "virtual power station". Aggregators' own control centres communicate with the equipment, using basic laptops, to turn generators on when needed - sometimes from hundreds of miles away. No action is needed by local operators.

The power is usually supplied for short periods when the grid is under stress and needs immediate capacity to replace power lost when the wind dies. This gives time for conventional power stations to be started up and brought online. Typically, the so-called STOR equipment will remain online for an hour to an hour-and-a-half during each "call". Short-lived peaks can also be "shaved", reducing the need to start up conventional power stations.

The system mirrors US experience where the giant energy management company EnerNoc - which now operates in the UK – was in 2010 already controlling 5.1GW of power from 8,200 American locations - more power than is produced by Drax power station in Yorkshire, Britain's largest, rated at nearly 4GW.

Potentially, there is 20-30GW available from standby emergency generators in Britain, much of it under Government control - which compares with the national peak winter load of 55GW and a typical daily load of 35GW.

For Alastair Martin, managing director of Flexitricity, the Government contract is the opportunity of a lifetime. His Edinburgh-based company started up in 2008 and, for every six months in the business has doubled the amount of capacity under its management.

In 2011, it was hoping to grow enough to replace one coal-fired power station and, by 2014, to manage the capacity equivalent to that consumed by the City of Manchester. Now, with this four-year government "framework" contract under its belt, Martin's company is well on its way to achieving its goal.

The power coming from Government buildings will mostly be used for the short-term balancing. But, says Martin, when it comes to dealing with the daily peaks, "there is more than enough unexploited capacity in the hands of industrial and commercial energy users. They can provide all of the reserve electricity that National Grid requires until 2020 without building a single additional power station".

As to, KiWi Power, it is also well aware of the contract's potential. On 20 September 2010, its cynicial message to the Financial Times was that selling capacity to the grid was "Money for nothing".

Disguising the fact that it was seeking to sell "dirty" diesel-generated electricity, it concentrated on making a "green" pitch. Renewable energy technologies such as wind and solar may make more headlines, "but energy efficiency" could make "a bigger contribution to cutting emissions", it told the paper.

A holistic approach to energy management according to McKinsey, the consultants, could yield savings worth $1,200bn by 2020 in the US. Kiwi Power wanted to work with the National Grid, to exploit the potential in Britain, for a market that will be worth £1 billion by 2015, equivalent to five percent on electricity bills.

Instead of supplying more power, daily peaks can be reduced by cutting non-essential energy consumption – typically lighting, air conditioning, air circulation and bulk refrigeration. This is part of the Demand Response system, and operations which promise to cut their consumption to order during peaks could make £5,000 to £50,000 a year, said KiWi Power's director, Ziko Abram. But that was never to be the major part of the company's business. Even at that time, he revealed that the real money was in larger sites with back-up diesel generators, selling dirty electricity to the grid.

Usually, generators in public buildings are usually kept only for emergencies, and stand idle unless there is a power cut.  With occasional test runs, they may not be used for more than 200 hours in a 20-year life. But they can now be used to earn £100,000 a year, just for being available to the grid and producing between 50 and 400 hours of electricity each year. They are only used when not needed by their operators.

The cash potential is well known to KiWi Power. In 2010 when it was just starting out, in "almost five months" and with just 10 staff, it saved 50MW, the amount needed to power 10,000 houses. At today's inflated prices, that amount of capacity placed on the reserve market could earn fees of more than £1 million.

Then, the company had only twelve clients in the UK, including the Reuben Brothers, a privately property investor, Cleveland Potash Mining, the only potash mine in the UK, Eden Shopping Centre and London Oxford Airport. But even then the potential was apparent. Payments for large, energy intensive operators with backup generators can amount to "millions of pounds" the company told Mining News back in 2010.

By October 2012, KiWi Power had moved into the public sector and had signed up Lister Hospital, part of the East and North Hertfordshire NHS Trust. At the hospital, four new diesel generators had been installed (one illustrated below), giving it 4.5MW capacity to send to the grid. The machinery is controlled via KiWi Power's centre in London, when it is not needed by the hospital, and is expected to earn more than £100,000 a year.

Such earnings are now to be multiplied hundred and possibly thousand-fold, as more and more generators are brought into the scheme. Leading the way will be NHS hospitals like Lister. Perhaps the one consolation for weary consumers struggling under the burden of yet another "stealth tax" on electricity, is that, if the NHS can't keep its patients alive, at least it can help keep the lights on and earn enough money to pay its chief executives' generous pensions.




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 or here


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