Wednesday, September 03, 2014

BOM gives specious reason for revising temperature data

Supposition trumps the facts!

THE removal of a longstanding temperature record at Bourke of 125 degrees Fahrenheit (51.7C) set in 1909 was the result of a critical 1997 paper that revised a string of records and brought Australia’s hottest recorded temperature into the second half of the 20th century.

Until the paper by Blair Trewin, who is now a leading climate scientist at the Bureau of Meteorology, Australia’s hottest recorded temperature was 53.1C at Cloncurry on January 16, 1889.

But after revision, the record has been accepted as the 50.7C recorded at Oodnadatta, South Australia, on January 2, 1960.

The Cloncurry record was erased because the temperature was taken with old technology and “the thermometers were probably overexposed to direct sunlight or radiant energy”.

At Bourke, however, the temperature record was taken with a near-new Stevenson screen and clearly documented in the official record and monthly audit.

Nonetheless the Bourke temperature was discarded from the record as an “observational error” because it was logged on a Sunday, a day that temperature records were generally not taken.

The deletion of the Bourke record has helped to fan a vigorous debate about the quality of the bureau’s historical temperature data.

Discussing the adjustment in the 1997 paper, Mr Trewin said a Stevenson screen was installed at Bourke in August 1908. “The original manuscript record for Bourke shows temperatures of 125F (51.7C) observed on both 2 and 3 January.

“The observation on January 2 has been corrected on the manuscript to 112F (44.4C), which is consistent with the temperatures over the region,” the Trewin paper said.

“However, 3 January was a Sunday, and no other observations were made on this day.

“It is therefore likely that the observation is actually the maximum temperature for the 48 hours to 0900, 4 January, and therefore it would be affected by the same error which was corrected in the case of the 2 January observation.”

He said “no other station in NSW or southern Queensland is known to have exceeded 47.2C on this day”.

However, Jennifer Marohasy, who has questioned the ­bureau about changes to the historic temperature record, said the nearest station, Brewarrina, had recorded 123F (50.6C) on the same day (January 3, 1909).

Dr Marohasy has a doctorate in biology and is openly sceptical of the consensus position on anthropogenic climate change.

The Brewarrina temperature record is widely reported in historic newspaper articles but the bureau’s online temperature record for Brewarrina does not start until January 1, 1911.

“In fact 125 is clearly written into the Bourke ledger for Sunday 3rd January in the pen that was being used at that time,’’ she said. “The entry is also underlined.”

“At the time all records were audited and a summary written at the end of the month.

“This summary clearly states that the maximum temperature on 3 January 1909 was 125F.”


Bureau of Meteorology defended over temperature adjustments by fellow Warmists

They defend the principle of data adjustment but that is not the issue.  How the principle was in fact appied is the issue.  Was it corruptly applied?  They have no answer to evidence that it was

THE Bureau of Meteorology’s rewriting of historic temperature records has been defended by leading climate scientists from the ARC Centre of Excellence for Climate Systems Science at the University of NSW.

In an online article, centre director Andy Pitman and chief investigator Lisa Alexander said homogenisation of raw temperature data was an “essential process in improving weather data by spotting where temperature records need to be corrected, in ­either direction”.

They said data homogenisation was used to varying degrees by many weather agencies and climate researchers worldwide.

“Although the World Meteorological Organisation has guidelines for data homogenisation, the methods used vary from country to country, and in some cases no data homogenisation is applied,’’ Dr Pitman and Dr Alexander said.

They said Australian Research Council Centre data on extreme temperature trends showed the warming trend across Australia looked bigger without homogenisation. Adjusted data showed a cooling trend over parts of northwest Australia, which wasn’t seen in the raw data.

“Far from being a fudge to make warming look more severe than it is, most of the bureau’s data manipulation has in fact had the effect of reducing the apparent extreme temperature trends across Australia,” the two said.

BOM’s homogenisation process has been queried following examples of long-term cooling or neutral trends being turned into a strong warming trend.

Analysis of the 100-year record at Rutherglen in Victoria showed that a cooling trend of 0.35C in the raw data had become a 1.73C warming after homogenisation.

BOM said the discrepancy was consistent with the thermometer site moving from a farm building on a small hill outside the town to low-lying flat ground.

However, the official catalogue says “there have been no site moves during the site’s history”. Former Rutherglen workers said the site had not been moved.

Asked further about Rutherglen, BOM said “statistical analysis of minimum temperatures at Rutherglen indicated jumps in the data in 1966 and 1974”.

“These changes were determined through comparison with 17 nearby sites,” it said. “The biases detected in the temperature data for Rutherglen were deemed large enough to require adjustment, based on the statistical tests alone.

“The site records indicate that at least one site move took place between 1958 and 1975. It is likely but not confirmed that this move took place in 1966. The site records also indicate that the weather station was substantially upgraded around the time of the 1974 break in the temperature record.”

The bureau did not provide a copy of the Rutherglen site record.

BOM has yet to provide a full list of peer-reviewed publications regarding its homogenisation process, but in an article in the International Journal of Climatology, BOM climate researcher Blair Trewin said the bureau’s homogenised data set included 112 sites across Australia and extended from 1910 to the present, with 60 sites having data for the full period.

The data set was developed using a technique, the percentile-matching algorithm, that applies differing adjustments to daily data depending on their position in the frequency distribution.

“This method is intended to produce data sets that are homogeneous for higher-order statistical properties, such as variance and the frequency of extremes, as well as for mean values,” the paper said.

“The PM algorithm is evaluated and found to have clear advantages over adjustments based on monthly means, particularly in the homogenisation of temperature extremes.’’


Obama pushes green standards for everything but the kitchen sink

The Obama administration is working on new efficiency standards for seemingly every appliance but the kitchen sink.

Spurred by President Obama’s climate action plan, the Department of Energy is pumping out new standards for refrigerators, dishwashers, air conditioners, ceiling fans, furnaces, boilers, water heaters, lamps and many more appliances.

The administration says the standards will not only help the planet but also stimulate the economy by saving consumers money on their energy bills that they can spend elsewhere.
But industry groups argue the standards, which will apply to both commercial and household appliances, could slow the economy, and that the Energy Department is rushing the new rules while overestimating the savings. Other critics argue the push to regulate household appliances is evidence of a nanny state.

“They’re not taking the time to get it right,” said Steve Yurek, president and CEO of the Air Conditioning, Heating and Refrigeration Institute. “That’s what we’re concerned about,” he said.

As evidence of the rush, critics point to how the Energy Department has already finalized new efficiency standards for seven appliances in 2014, with another three rules expected by the end of the year. That compares to two rules in 2013 and three in 2012.

The department says the rules will save consumers $49 billion by 2030.

A handful of efficiency standards for other appliances also have been proposed, but won’t be completed until after this year.

The rules will affect nearly every household in the country.

“We all have a microwave or a refrigerator or a dishwasher, so these rules do affect basically every American household,” said Sofie Miller, a researcher at The George Washington University’s Regulatory Studies Center.

Business groups say the new rules will be expensive for industry to comply with because it will require them to buy new technologies to develop appliances that emit less energy. That will raise the retail prices of household appliances, they say.

“There are a lot of folks in the business community who don’t believe the benefits are as good as the Energy Department says they will be and that the agency is using flawed data to tip the scales in favor of more stringent regulations,” said Jon Melchi, director of government affairs for Heating, Air-conditioning and Refrigeration Distributors International.

Green groups and the Energy Department acknowledge the standards will lead to more expensive appliances but say consumers will save money in the long run on their energy bills.

“This can be a nice opportunity to save consumers money,” said Kathleen Hogan, deputy assistant secretary for energy efficiency at the DOE.

Miller suggests that both sides could be right. She said the new efficiency standards will save wealthy consumers money in the long run, because they can afford to pay the higher costs for new household appliances.

Lower-income consumers, however, will be at a disadvantage, she said. They will have a tough time paying for the more expensive appliances, and are likely to keep using older ones.

She also said that could defeat the environmental reasons for pushing the new rules.

“If you can’t afford a dishwasher, you’re stuck washing your dishes by hand,” Miller said, “which actually uses more water.”

Republicans played the rich-poor divide up during one of the most famous efficiency controversies: the ban on traditional incandescent light bulbs.

That episode also highlights how energy efficiency has become more of a partisan issue. The push for the new light bulbs started under President George W. Bush and initially had support from many Republicans. It then became a Tea Party rallying cry, and Obama’s embrace of energy efficiency led more in the GOP to become opponents.

The ban is pushing consumers to buy more expensive light bulbs, even as they save money on their energy bills. Republicans complain this puts lower-income consumers at a disadvantage because they’ll have a tougher time paying for the more expensive bulbs.

While many of the efficiency rules target household appliances, others focus on business appliances, such as commercial ice-makers, commercial refrigerators and walk-in coolers and freezers.

The Air Conditioning, Heating and Refrigeration Institute is challenging the later two rules in federal court. Yurek argues the rules could force as much as 40 percent of the industry out of business.

“The Energy Department is pushing as high as they can, and sometimes even higher than they should be in setting these efficiency standards,” Yurek said.

The Obama administration has shown no signs of slowing down anytime soon.

Obama has made it clear that fighting climate change is one of his top priorities, something highlighted by news reports this week that the administration is seeking a new climate deal at the United Nations.

The goal of Obama’s climate plan is to reduce carbon pollution so much by 2030 that it would be equivalent to taking 44 million cars off the road, according to the Energy Department.

The push for tougher efficiency standards was initially ushered in with the 2009 stimulus bill, which included $16.8 billion for the Energy Department to promote efficiency.


When Science is Settled - by Government

by Mark Steyn

The defamation suit against me, National Review, the Competitive Enterprise Institute and Rand Simberg brought by Michael E Mann, fake Nobel Laureate and inventor of the global-warming "hockey stick", is now chugging into its third year. Speaking for myself, I wouldn't still be in the game if it weren't for readers around the world who've helped push back against the climate mullahs by buying our exclusive range of Steyn Vs The Stick trial merchandise, our new SteynOnline gift certificates and all the other fun stuff - books, CDs, and more - over at the Steyn store.

Today, Tuesday, by 5pm Eastern, Dr Mann is due to file his latest court pleading. It will be interesting (well, okay, very mildly interesting) to see whether he addresses the arguments made by the ACLU, The Washington Post, NBC and others against his appalling assault on the First Amendment - or whether he sticks with his strange and repulsive contention that simply because various government bureaucracies are okay with him his work should be beyond reproach.

I dislike appeals to authority on principle, but appeals to authority in climate science are especially absurd, given that the authorities are so laughably unauthoritative. As I mentioned the other day, the peer-reviewed settled-science types at the journal Science have taken five years to catch up with a throwaway observation of mine from 2009:

    "My general line is this: For the last century, we've had ever-so-slight warming trends and ever-so-slight cooling trends every 30 years or so, and I don't think either are anything worth collapsing the global economy over.

    Things warmed up a bit in the decades before the late Thirties. Why? I dunno. The Versailles Treaty? The Charleston?

    Then from 1940 to 1970 there was a slight cooling trend. In its wake, Lowell Ponte (who I believe is an expert climatologist and, therefore, should have been heeded) wrote his bestseller, The Cooling: Has the new ice age already begun? Can we survive?

    From 1970 to 1998 there was a slight warming trend, and now there's a slight cooling trend again. And I'm not fussed about it either way."

That was my view of "climate change" on July 25th 2009, and I'm heartened to see the peer-review set at Science getting with the beat. Alas for my Nobel Prize hopes, Billy Joel stoner David Appell has emerged from his recent hibernation on Mannish matters to scoff at my claim to be the world's greatest self-taught climate scientist. Yet in this field you don't have to be great, merely not quite so risible as the experts. Anthony Watts reminds us of what the settled scientists were saying half-a-decade ago:

    "World Will Warm Faster Than Predicted In Next Five Years, Study Warns"

Duncan Clark in The Guardian laid it on as only a devout warm-monger can:

    "The world faces record-breaking temperatures as the sun's activity increases, leading the planet to heat up significantly faster than scientists had predicted for the next five years."

Er, no. None of that happened. That was The Guardian on July 27th 2009 - or two days after my throwaway observation of nary a moment's thought. As climate analyses from 2009 go, which is closer to the reality of the "science" in 2014 - the "expert" "study" or the ravings of an unlettered middle-school dropout? We are now approaching the start of the third decade of what the corrupt ideologues of climate alarmism now, belatedly, call the "pause" in global warming. Yet none of those guys - Mann included - were talking about the "pause" five years ago, and I was.

~This is a problem for the Big Climate enforcers in general - and for fake Nobel Laureate Michael E Mann in particular. Dr Mann claims I defamed him when I described his global-warming hockey stick as "fraudulent", which it is (and, indeed, it gets more fraudulent as the years go by). But his defense to date has been that, because government officials have "exonerated" him, he cannot be questioned. As I pointed out in my own brief (page seven), Mann's appeals to authority are almost entirely bogus:

    "In his later court filings, Mann has made equally preposterous and objectively false claims. For example, Mann has claimed that he has been "exonerated" by such bodies as the University of East Anglia, the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Agency, and even by the government of the United Kingdom, none of which have investigated Dr Mann at all, never mind "exonerated" him.

    The audacity of the falsehoods in Mann's court pleadings is breathtaking. For example, on page 19 of his brief below dated January 18, 2013, he cites the international panel chaired by the eminent scientist Lord Oxburgh, FRS as one of the bodies that "exonerated" him, whereas on page 235 of Mann's own book, The Hockey Stick and the Climate Wars, he states explicitly that "our own work did not fall within the remit of the committee, and the hockey stick was not mentioned in the report." It is deeply disturbing that a plaintiff should make such fraudulent claims in his legal pleadings."

That leaves, out of his multiple transatlantic "exonerations", only two. The first is the Penn State inquiry, where he was "exonerated" by a corrupt university administration whose senior figures were forced to resign and whose disgraced president is currently facing decades in the slammer for obstruction of justice and child endangerment in the Sandusky cover-up: I'm sure he'll make a compelling witness for Mann. The second is the EPA "inquiry", which was a joke and which, as Steve McIntyre suggests, may well have breached the EPA's own guidelines for public dissemination. (Do read down into the comments for discussion on which if any of the Climategate emails the EPA actually reviewed.)

So Mann has been brazenly lying his way through his court pleadings with merry abandon. But let us suppose for the sake of argument that everything he'd said in his briefs was actually true - that he had been investigated and exonerated by various government bodies in the United States and the United Kingdom. So what? As the ACLU and the bigfoot media put it in their own amicus brief opposing Mann:

    "The fact that certain official panels backed Mann's methodology – facts that were not only disclosed in the challenged publications but in fact formed the basis for them – cannot allow him to silence his critics in a defamation claim. Under the First Amendment, the government is not the final arbiter of truth with the power to foreclose further challenge to its policies."

Just so. The President declares there's not a "smidgen" of corruption at the IRS. The Secretary of State determines that Benghazi is the fault of a video. The National Security Adviser pronounces Bowe Bergdahl an American hero. And the EPA hails Michael Mann as a paragon of virtue. Big deal. As the ACLU et al put it, "the government is not the final arbiter of truth with the power to foreclose further challenge" - the power to end debate. That is, unless Mann prevails, in which case he'll have taken his hockey stick and punched a huge, irreparable hole through the First Amendment. At some point, Mann will have to address the ACLU's argument. Maybe today will be the day.

Or maybe he'll just carry on with his serial lies. Truly, it is difficult to convey the scale of mendacity in Mann's court filings. Steve McIntyre again:

    "In today's post, I'll discuss another misrepresentation in Mann's Statement of Claim, one in which Mann bizarrely misrepresented the nature of his own research, falsely claiming credit for being "one of the first" to "document" the increase in 20th century temperatures. This particular false claim was in the same paragraph as Mann's false claim to have received a Nobel prize."

Not even his friends would claim that Mann was "one of the first to document the steady rise in surface temperatures during the 20th Century". His counsel Peter Fontaine is a full-time climate-change lawyer and surely knows this:

    "Mann's misrepresentation of the nature of his research is very curious since it seems that it ought to have been easy enough for Mann and/or Peter Fontaine to write a simple statement that Mann's research involved proxy reconstructions of past temperature, mostly using tree rings. And why say that Mann was "one of the first" to document the increase in 20th century temperatures when he wasn't? Readers puzzled by such mis-statements are asked not to refer to comments by Mary McCarthy about "and" and "the"."

Reading Mann's claims to be a Nobel Laureate, a man "exonerated" by the Government of the United Kingdom, a pioneer in the field of 20th-century temperature data, etc, etc, I'm reminded of Hillary Rodham Clinton's aside to a New Zealand audience that her parents named her after Edmund Hillary, who conquered Everest on the eve of the Queen's coronation. That was in 1953. Hillary Rodham was born in 1947, when Sir Edmund was an obscure New Zealand beekeeper and an unlikely inspiration for parents in a Chicago suburb. It was an unnecessary lie, and one got the feeling that she and Bill did it just to stay in shape, give the old forked tongue a workout. If you need to lie about the big things - as Mann does - you wind up lying about stuff you don't need to lie about out of a combination of force of habit and inability to resist.

Of course, his lawyers, being officers of the court, don't have the same excuse.

So it will be interesting to see whether Doctor Fraudpants is peddling the same old hooey this afternoon, or whether wiser counsel has prevailed.

~Mann started this thing, but I promise you I will finish it, despite his delays and obfuscations and attempts to obstruct discovery and deposition. I have a great legal team headed by Dan Kornstein, the man behind the most consequential piece of free-speech legislation enacted this century, and we've been interviewing prominent scientific witnesses tired of the climate of fear that Mann and his Clime Syndicate have imposed on their field.


Remind me again: Who wants GMO labeling?

Science surrendering to superstition, pro-GMO activist argues

Organic activists claim 92% of consumers want genetically-modified organisms (GMOs) labeled. It turns out the overwhelming majorityof consumers support the status quo when you don’t ask a misleading question like, “Do want toxic pesticides genetically spliced into your food?”

But still, activists insist that proponents of modern, science-based farming surrender and “Give consumers what they want!” Toss in superstar Neil Young who hates GMOs, combined with years of disinformation from organic diva Vandana Shiva who actually claims GMOs are causing a mass genocide, and pro-GMO executives are now poised to concede.

Biotechnology long ago gave consumers exactly what they wanted. After synthetic human insulin was genetically engineered to replace insulin from slaughtered pigs for people afflicted with diabetes, this field of science gave farmers the means to grow more food on less land with less fuel. And the overwhelming majority of farmers adopted GMO crops in every nation where they are not banned for political reasons.

What’s more, the introduction of GMOs was coincident with organic farmers gaining recognition from regulators. Thus began 20 years of peaceful “coexistence” between GMO and organic farmers.

Pure Food Campaign

But never mind the people who grow our food. Urban-based organic activists wanted GMOs banned! Realizing this was impossible at the time, a professional organic activist named Jeremy Rifkin founded The Pure Food Campaign to instead demand the labeling of genetically-modified foods. But with scant support from organic farmers and consumers, he succeeded only in excluding GMOs from America’s National Organic Program.

All Rifkin knew at the time was that Monsanto was developing GMOs, a company that he and his followers hated. They knew little of the science; less still where the science might go. And yet, in spite of President Clinton urging organic activists to allow GMOs on a case-by-case basis, they rejected this fledgling field of science outright.

With creative tax-sheltering, Rifkin’s movement morphed into The Organic Consumers Association, a group which today has even less to do with organic farmers than Rifkin’s group did. The director of the OCA, Ronnie Cummins, freely admits that labeling GMOs is not meant to provide consumers with free-market choice as so many claim, but rather to drive genetically engineered crops off the market, which was Rifkin’s goal as well.

And yet, pro-GMO executives will not challenge organic activists, instead conceding to demands for GMO labeling, along with baseless claims that GMOs contaminate organic crops, in spite of the fact there is no mention of this anywhere in America’s standards for organic production, standards which Rifkin and Cummins helped write!

This is America, land of the contingency-based hired-gun litigation lawyer. If GMOs actually contaminated organic crops, wouldn’t there have been a lawsuit or two by now? Hold that thought.

Seeking consensus

These high-paid executives at the helm of corporations like Monsanto, Bayer and Syngenta, along with executives from every farm bureau, commodity and industry group across the land, now seek to “engage” with members of the anti-GMO organic movement in the hope of finding -- wait for it -- a “consensus,” even though there has been nothing but consensus between GMO and organic farmers for well over 20 years now.

Meanwhile, organic activists who are perhaps too lazy to start their own businesses, waste your tax dollars harassing companies like Starbucks into serving only certified organic, non-GMO milk. Wouldn’t Starbucks do this on its own if its executives thought this was what their customers wanted?

Back in 1971, the founder of the American organic movement, Jerome Rodale, died during a recording of The Dick Cavett Show after declaring how wonderful his organic diet made him feel. You can’t make stuff like that up.

Fast forward to the present and millionaire organic activist Mike “The Health Ranger” Adams seeks to silence his opponents by listing us on a website called “Monsanto Collaborators,” where he perpetuates Vandana Shiva’s completely unfounded claims that hundreds of thousands of farmer suicides in India have resulted from GMO crops. People like us and FNC’s John Stossel are guilty, according to Adams, of mass genocide. Again, you can’t make stuff like this up.

It turns out the suicide rate among Indian farmers has actually gone down since GMOs were introduced. Yields and profits are up, and pesticide usage is down nearly 40% thanks to the adoption of GMO cotton by Indian farmers. Shiva and Adams won’t comment on these facts.

Belligerence persists

Clearly, the belligerence started by Rodale and Rifkin and carried on today by people like Cummins, Shiva and Adams, did not arise because GMO executives were too aggressive in pushing the scientific facts behind modern, science-based farming. To the contrary, Adams, Shiva and their ilk get away with making death-threats precisely because GMO executives are completely passive and conciliatory.

With Vermont passing the nation’s first “clean” GMO labeling law, and Oregon now home to the sixth ban on GMOs, these executives have decided – to a man – to give in by passing a national, voluntary GMO labeling law that concedes to the decades-old demand by organic activists that consumers need a warning label when it comes to consuming GMO foods. Try objecting and these GMO executives all say the same thing: “You just don’t understand how much pressure we’re under. We have no choice.”

And so, with no evidence to support any of their claims, organic activists are now poised to win it all. And remember what we said about the complete lack of lawsuits in America for GMO “contamination” of organic crops? According to both science and the law, GMOs cannot contaminate an organic crop. But GMO labeling will change this by creating, for the first time ever in America, a threshold limit for GMO content in food.

The science will remain unchanged; GMOs have never caused any harm to anyone or anything. But this labeling law will open the door to activist organic farmers who will claim their crops no longer qualify as GMO-free and hence can no longer be certified as organic. Lawsuits will ensue; of that you can be assured. But not against any pro-GMO executives; against American farmers who grow GMO crops.

No threat to health

GMOs are identical to non-GMO crops on the process level. This has been properly and scientifically proven and nobody has ever contradicted this. Meanwhile, organic sprouts caused a lethal E. coli outbreak in Northern Germany in 2011 that resulted in 53 deaths and over 100 people requiring a donor kidney or dialysis for the rest of their lives.

What’s more, GMO executives are well aware that GMOs pose no threat whatsoever to human health, the environment or to organic crops, but they have decided it would be too “mean spirited” to actually say so openly. And no, we did not make that up. Self-preservation is now their only goal. They’re taking the Fifth, confirming charges by organic activists like Rifkin, Cummins, Shiva and Adams that GMO executives are indeed guilty of something, and that GMOs may indeed cause harm.

We might as well cave in to leftwing political correctness and start saying we were attacked on 9-11 by a group of disgruntled young men of Middle Eastern background instead of by radical Islamic terrorists. No, not average Muslims. Everyone gets the distinction in that case.

Likewise, America’s leadership role in feeding the world is not under attack from organic farmers or consumers. They’re not the ones who want GMOs labeled or banned. Modern farming is being attacked by organic activists… tax-funded, urban organic activists. People who do not, and in many cases have never worked on a farm, let alone run one.

And these activists are now being aided and abetted by GMO executives who have made a business decision, not a humanitarian or agronomic decision, to concede valuable ground to their opposition.

Leadership role lost

It’s time we made a distinction here and stood up to all of these self-serving individuals. Not by attacking them personally as activists do to us, nor by mollifying them as GMO executives are doing. By standing up to them with the facts. Every time, no matter what.

Failing that, America’s leadership role in farming will be lost and we’ll look like Europe within a decade.


UK: Emergency measures to prevent blackouts this winter as power crunch worsens

Those vast investments in windmills and solar panels have brought Britain to this?  Not much sun in winter?  Not much wind in winter? How surprising!

Emergency measures to fire up mothballed power stations could be used to keep the lights on this winter, after a series of power plant fires and closures left Britain more vulnerable to blackouts.

National Grid announced on Tuesday that it would begin recruiting idle or mothballed power plants, which would be paid to ensure they could fire up if needed as a "last resort".

The Grid had said in June that the emergency plan to boost power supplies would not be needed this year. However, it has resorted to using it because five of the power plants it had expected to be running this winter are now shut down or are in doubt.

In June, energy regulator Ofgem estimated there would be between 2.7 gigawatts (GW) and 5.4GW of spare operational power plants on the system – a capacity margin of between 5pc-10pc over and above peak winter demand.

But the situation has deteriorated as 3.67GW of power plants are now in doubt or shut down as a result of a series of incidents – threatening to wipe out the spare margin unless Grid recruits extra plants.

Two nuclear power plants have been temporarily shut down amid safety fears, two coal-fired power plant units have been partially shut after fires, and one gas-fired power plant unit is being shut because it is unprofitable.

"There is an increased level of uncertainty over the volume of plant that may be available in the market this winter," Grid said in a statement.

The plan to fire up mothballed power plants comes in addition to another emergency measure the Grid had already decided was needed this winter, to reduce demand by paying businesses to agree to switch off between 4pm and 8pm on weekdays.

Both demand and supply emergency measures were already due to be used in winter 2015-16 when Britain's spare capacity margin was already expected to fall to as low as 2pc.

The measures will be funded by consumers and are estimated to add £1 a year to household energy bills.

Peter Atherton, energy analyst at Liberum Capital, warned it was "a bit late in the day" for National Grid to be invoking the latest measure as it was "unlikely" that any plants that had been fully mothballed could now come back on in time for this winter.

However, plants that were shut and idle but not fully mothballed could come back more quickly, he said.

National Grid said it knew there were plants that "could make this winter’s deadline". "We would not be running the tender unless we thought we would get a response from industry," a spokesman said.

The biggest threat to this winter's supplies comes from doubts over two nuclear power plants, Heysham 1 and Hartlepool, with a combined capacity of 2.4 gigawatts (GW).

The plants were shut down in early August in order for owner EDF to carry out safety checks on key boiler equipment in the reactors following the discovery of "unexpected cracking" in one unit.

EDF said at the time it could not give an exact date for their return to service until investigations were completed, estimated to take "around eight weeks". Its website says they are due to resume operation in October.

But Grid said the outcome of EDF's investigations "may have an impact" on plant availability this winter.

"It is obviously a sign that National Grid are concerned that the two nukes may not come back on before winter kicks in," Mr Atherton said.

The spare capacity margin had already been dented when the Ferrybridge coal-fired power plant in Yorkshire suffered a fire in July. The fire-damaged unit, of 500 megawatt (MW) capacity is not expected to return to service this winter.

Another coal-fired power plant, Ironbridge in Shropshire, had announced in late May that a fire-damaged unit of 370MW would not be repaired.

And the owners of one gas-fired power plant, Barking in east London, announced plans to close it over two years because it was not profitable. Some 400MW could be lost this winter as a result.

However, a spokesman for the Grid confirmed that Barking would now be eligible to sign up for its emergency supplies scheme and could now be paid to remain operational this winter.

National Grid said that while it was putting both emergency measures in place, they would only actually be called upon as a "last resort".

Power plants that sign up to the scheme will effectively be paid a retainer to guarantee their availability, and then further payments if they are called upon to actually fire up.

Businesses who sign up for the weeknight closures to ease demand will also be paid a retainer even if they are never ultimately called upon to power down.

A spokesman for energy regulator Ofgem said: "We are confident that National Grid has the right levers to keep the lights on.

"However, no electricity system anywhere in the world can give a 100pc guarantee that the lights will stay on.

"Therefore given the tighter margins there can never be any room for complacency and National Grid and the industry must remain vigilant at all times.”

Ed Davey, the energy secretary, told the Telegraph in June: “The lights are going to stay on."



For more postings from me, see  DISSECTING LEFTISM, TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC and AUSTRALIAN POLITICS. Home Pages are   here or   here or   here.  Email me (John Ray) here.  

Preserving the graphics:  Most graphics on this site are hotlinked from elsewhere.  But hotlinked graphics sometimes have only a short life -- as little as a week in some cases.  After that they no longer come up.  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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