Thursday, October 30, 2014

Lack of wind or nuclear problems 'could wipe out UK's spare power capacity'

A cold and windless day could result in households’ lights being dimmed this winter, despite new emergency measures to prevent blackouts, experts have warned.

Britain’s spare capacity – the safety buffer between electricity supplies and peak demand – has fallen to just 4 per cent, the lowest level in seven years, following a series of power plant fires and closures, analysis from National Grid revealed.

Ministers on Tuesday insisted there would be no blackouts, thanks to emergency measures to bolster the margin back up to 6 per cent – higher than last year - by paying three power plants millions of pounds to guarantee their availability and paying factories to switch off during times of peak demand.

But experts cast doubt on those assurances.

The enhanced 6 per cent safety buffer relies on the timely restart in November and December of two nuclear power plants that are currently closed for safety checks. Their owner, EDF, has already delayed their restart once.

It also assumes Britain’s wind farms will deliver 1.7GW of power, some 23 per cent of their maximum output, despite recent warnings that windless spells with much lower output can occur even in mid-winter.

The combined effect of the nuclear plant not restarting and a windless day would be to “wipe out” the spare capacity margin, Peter Atherton, energy analyst at investment bank Liberum Capital, said.

Electricity supplies could also come under pressure if low wind coincides with an exceptionally cold spell, such as the kind of weather seen in early 2010, which Grid says is a 1-in-20 year event.

In the event of power shortages National Grid could intervene to prevent blackouts by using further emergency measures such as reducing voltage, resulting in dimmed lights.

National Grid said that even in an unusually cold winter, it believed there would be fewer than three hours in which it might have to take such steps.

It said this assessment already included the potential for “very low wind” and “delayed nuclear return”, and that this eventuality would not completely wipe out the spare margin.

The company said there would be other measures, such as ramping up electricity imports from the continent and asking power stations to run at full tilt, which could be used before it would dim lights.

It added: “No-wind days are now very rare given the amount of wind generation in the country and where it is based.”

Mr Atherton said that irrespective of the eventual margin, the fact National Grid had had to “cobble together” the emergency measures to guarantee extra power plants “demonstrates a shocking failure in UK energy policy”.

The emergency supply plans were designed to secure extra capacity from power plants “that would otherwise be closed or mothballed”.

But one of the three plants that will be paid through the scheme - ScottishPower’s Rye House gas plant – was expected to have been available in the market anyway, raising questions over why it has secured the extra cash.

Ofgem, the energy regulator, said that the introduction of the emergency measures was expected to cost less than £1 per household each year and meant the ultimate risk of blackouts was no worse than last year.

Matthew Hancock, the energy minister, pledged: “There will be no power cuts to householders.”

But the Institute of Directors said: “That we are even talking about the possibility of blackouts is in itself a massive policy failure”.

In its report on winter energy supplies, National Grid also warned that UK gas prices would soar if Vladimir Putin limits gas exports from Russia this winter.

Any disruption to Russian exports to Europe is likely to have the knock-on effect of forcing Britain to pay “significantly higher” prices to import more gas by ship from elsewhere in the world, it said.

A spokesman for EDF said it still expected to restart its nuclear plants as scheduled.


Jo Nova satirizes the wisdom of Britain's Indian baroness

Global Placebo Effect: Windmills, taxes, solar panels — slowed global warming before they were built

It’s a scientific breakthrough. Global warming may be stopped by the mere thought of trying to reduce CO2, even if that thought fails to bring down actual CO2 levels.

The central dilemma: CO2 levels have been rising “faster than expected” for the last twenty years, yet global warming has been rising “slower than expected” for almost as long.

Matt Ridley was questioning Baroness Sandip Verma at the House of Lords this week. He pointed out to the peers that even the IPCC admits there is “hiatus” that modelers can’t explain. Verma responded: “‘It [global warming] may have slowed down, but that is a good thing. It could well be that some of the measures we are taking today is helping that to occur.’”

Verma raises the intriguing possibility that windmills and solar panels that were built after 2005 have managed to keep global temperatures constant starting from ten years before they were constructed.

What’s even more remarkable is that none of these projects or activities have reduced global CO2 levels. It follows then, that the mere thought of building windmills is enough to change the weather.

Furthermore, it’s well known that more expensive placebo’s are more effective. Hence the final-final copy of the latest IPCC report — issued on Friday after the leak, the draft, and the redraft — will explain that they are 95% certain that if we spend $2 billion dollars a day on renewable energy (instead of just $1 billion) there will be no more category five storms, seas will stop rising, and goats will stop shrinking.

This morning, the UK Prime Minister David Cameron offered to give The Royal Society 350 billion pounds to research the new GPE. Sir Paul Nurse promised to start experiments straight away — beginning by asking seven million British school students to do a coloring in competition on emissions reduction every Monday in 2015 to see how much global temperatures can be reduced compared to other days of the week.

The University of East Anglia announced they will simultaneously set up a new division to monitor Mondays on HadCRUT and also on their Global Climate Models. “We don’t know whether models are subject to the placebo effect, but we suspect they might be” said a spokesman.  The project is due to start in January. Nature has already accepted their paper.

But Dr Roy Spencer was skeptical, and suggested that the correlation may work the other way in models.  “The more money we spend on models that predict warming, the less warming we seem to get“ said Spencer.


University freaks about skeptical scientist’s talk on campus

Declares talk to be ‘disservice’; ‘potentially harmful’; ‘unfortunate’ – Lament there was not a panel of 4 or 5 warmists to rebut him.  But all criticisms of Legates were in terms of an appeal to authority.  No climate data was mentioned  -- as per usual with Warmists

Guest speakers are a common occurance at Towson University and, for the most part, they attend without stirring up controversy. Things changed, however, when David Legates, a professor of geography from the University of Delaware and a skeptic of human-caused, or anthropogenic, climate change, was invited to speak on campus Thursday.

“I think it was unfortunate to bring in only one speaker and have it be such a minority view,” said Brian Fath, a professor in the department of biological sciences.

Fath was at the lecture Thursday night and was one of a handful of TU faculty who challenged what Legates was saying at the end of his talk.

Legates shared data and other evidence that, according to him, show that the scientific community is wrong and misguided about anthropogenic climate change.

“My concern is that carbon dioxide is not the main player in climate change,” Legates said. “It’s probably only a bit [of a] player.” During his talk, he went through examples that he said did not see a strong relationship between human activity and a changing climate.

However, as was pointed out by members of the audience after Legates’ lecture, he mostly stands alone in his view.

“Doctor Legates does not represent what the majority of the scientific community who study climate change thinks,” Joel Moore, an assistant professor in the department of geosciences, said.

Legates came to campus as a part of the What Matters Speaker Series, which has been put on by the Department of Geography and Environmental Planning. He came because of a grant from William Murray, a member of the board of directors of the TU Foundation.

Yet, according to Virginia Thompson, chair of the department, Legates would not take any compensation for lecturing at the University.

“Although Doctor Legates’ views do not reflect my own, I wanted to give him a venue to express his opinions so that we could have a conversation about it,” Thompson said.

Thompson said that she was met with pushback from Towson faculty when she announced that Legates would be coming to campus. Some of the immediate reaction she received was concern that there would be no rebuttal to what Legates was saying.

Both Fath and Moore said in interviews that they would have liked to see some sort of panel or rebuttal during the event. Moore suggested a panel that accurately represented the scientific community.

“So maybe four or five people who study different aspects of climate change, and then Legates,” Moore said.

Legates said that he had no problem with investing in clean technology and embracing conservation methods. His qualm, however, is how climate change is presented to the public. He does not believe that the issue is presented honestly or without bias. He said that he thinks scientists “overstating” the dangers of climate change is “disingenuous.”

Legates also said that he thought that the focus should be more on how to reduce human vulnerability to a changing climate, rather than trying to keep the climate from changing.

“The point is that climate is going to change. Climate is always variable,” Legates said. “So as a result, we need to figure out how we live with these things.”

Some Towson faculty thought his message was potentially harmful because of the viewpoint it presented.  Fath said he thought that without “perspective and context” Legates’ message could potentially misinform students.

Fath was not alone in his concern.  Moore said that Legates’ message could be a “disservice” to students and members of the community who don’t have a strong background in and an understanding of Earth’s climate.

Despite the controversy, Legates was not met entirely with disagreement.

Moore, for example, said that what Legates said about human activity increasing floods by creating non-permeable surfaces was “absolutely true.” “That in of itself was fine, I agree with him on that,” Moore said. “But I don’t agree with how it connects to the bigger picture.”

Thompson said that she agreed with Legates in his view that humans are putting themselves in a dangerous position.  “Almost every climate scientist can agree that human behavior is increasing human vulnerability to climate,” she said. “Some will also include greenhouse gasses, [Legates] won’t.”


Likely Democrat Presidential Candidate Cozies Up to the Environmentalists

As Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley considers a 2016 White House run, he’s cozying up with groups key to positioning him as the anti-Hillary candidate.

The governor and billionaire Tom Steyer joined forces Wednesday night at the Mercedez-Benz Superdome in New Orleans to speak to thousands of architects, designers and central planners attending Greenbuild 2014, a conference for those interested in green living.

But the most important person in the audience for O’Malley was Steyer, the Democrats’ new piggie bank. Luckily for the governor, Steyer had the best seat in the house for the show — on stage, right next to O’Malley.

Though O’Malley hasn’t formally declared his intention to run, he broached the topic immediately out of the gate. Asked by author and forum moderator Paul Hawken what he’d do as president if he knew he could not failed, the governor described a public relations offensive to re-educate the good people of America.

“It would be to instill an awareness in our people, a belief if you will, that climate change is not so much an inconvenient truth, but a reality to be embraced that can lead us to a more secure and prosperous future,” the governor said. “You can go as far as the awareness of the electorate supports and allows.”

Or, in O’Malley’s case, as far as the electorate can afford.

The governor’s green agenda hasn’t come cheaply. Although states around Maryland saw electric rates drop in recent years, O’Malley’s insistence on using green sources caused — at least in part — steep hikes in power prices during his two terms.

National Review’s Jillian Kay Melchior bashed the governor for his deference to the green left over impoverished Marylanders.

“Of course, no one mentions that O’Malley’s ambitious green policy has an outsize and detrimental impact on the state’s most economically vulnerable residents,”Melchior wrote late last year.

For his part, Steyer, who’s dumped more than $55 million into the 2014 midterm elections, told onlookers to vote primarily with climate change in mind.


The True Reason Gas Prices are Falling (Hint: It’s Not Because of Green Energy)

American workers and motorists got some badly-needed relief this week when the price of oil plunged to its lowest level in years. The oil price has fallen by about 25 percent since its peak back in June of $105 a barrel.  This is translating to lower prices at the pump with many states now below $3 a gallon.

At present levels, these lower oil and gas prices are the equivalent of a $200 billion cost saving to American consumers and businesses. That’s $200 billion a year we don’t have to send to Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and other foreign nations. Now that’s an economic stimulus par excellence.

There are many global reasons why gas prices are falling, but the major one isn’t being widely reported. America has become in the last several years an energy-producing powerhouse.  And sorry, Mr. President, I’m not talking about the niche “green energy” sources you are so weirdly fixated with.

Oil prices are falling because of changes in world supply and world demand. Demand has slowed because Europe is an economic wreck. But since 2008 the U.S. has increased our domestic supply by a gigantic 50 percent. This is a result of the astounding shale oil and gas revolution made possible by made-in-America technologies like hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling.  Already thanks to these inventions, the U.S. has become the number one producer of natural gas. But oil production in states like Oklahoma, Texas and North Dakota has doubled in just six years.

Without this energy blitz, the U.S. economy would barely have recovered from the recession of 2008-09. From the beginning of 2008 through the end of 2013 the oil and gas extraction industry created more than 100,000 jobs while the overall job market shrank by 970,000.

When the radical greens carry around signs saying “No to Fracking,” they couldn’t be promoting a more anti-America message. It would be like Nebraska not growing corn.

We are just skimming the surface of our super-abundant oil and gas resources.  New fields have been discovered in Texas and North Dakota that could contain hundreds of years of shale oil and gas supplies.

Here’s another reason to love the oil and gas bonanza in America. It’s breaking the back of OPEC.  Saudi Arabia is deluging the world with oil right now, which is driving the world price relentlessly lower. The Arabs understand–as too few in Washington do–that shale energy boom is no short term fad. It could make energy cheaper for decades to come.  As American drillers get better at perfecting the technologies of cracking through shale rock to get to the near infinite treasure chest supplies of energy locked inside, we will soon overtake Saudi Arabia as the dominant player in world energy markets.

You can’t have a cartel if the world’s largest producer–America–isn’t a member. OPEC will never again be able to create the level of economic turmoil that the Arab members of OPECs engineered in the 1970s with their oil embargo. And by the way: lower oil prices place increased pressure on Iran’s mullahs to abandon their nuclear program and curb Putin’s capabilities to engage in East Europe aggression.

Yet the political class still doesn’t get it. As recently as 2012 President Obama declared that “the problem is we use more than 20 percent of the world’s oil and we only have 2 percent of the world’s proven oil reserves.”  Then he continued with his Malthusian nonsense,  “Even if we drilled every square inch of this country right now, we’d still have to rely disproportionately on other countries for their oil.” Apparently, neither he nor his fact checkers have ever been to Texas or North Dakota.  And we don’t have 2 percent of the world’s oil. Including estimates of onshore and offshore resources not yet officially “discovered”, we have ten times more than the stat quoted by the president–resources sufficient to supply hundreds of years of oil and gas.

America, in sum, has been richly endowed with a nearly invincible 21st century economic and national security weapon to keep us safe and prosperous. The plunge is gas prices is just one visible sign of this supply explosion.  Think of how much bigger this revolution could be if we started building pipelines, repealed the ban on oil exports, expanded drilling on public lands, and stopped trying to punitively tax and regulate the oil and gas.

For much of the last forty years, oil’s periodic price spikes have remained a constant threat to growth. Higher consumer energy costs as well as increased industrial production costs weighted on the economy. Now oil is one of the primary accelerators; the new big drag on the economy is politicians who despise the carbon-based industry.



Three current articles below

Energy company starts fracking in NSW -- to Greenie protests

The NSW government approved controversial coal seam gas exploration at Gloucester before receiving proof that chemicals involved were safe for human health, throwing into doubt claims it is clamping down on the contentious industry.

It comes as protests at the site became heated this week, including allegations that a protester tried to hold the head of a security guard under water during a scuffle. Protesters described the claim as "exaggerated".

Police charged two protesters on Monday after they allegedly accessed the AGL site illegally. About 20 protesters reportedly blockaded the entrance to the site on Tuesday, but were kept out by a large police and private security guard presence.

AGL's Waukivory pilot project, south of Gloucester, has emerged as the latest front in community opposition to coal seam gas, following fierce protests around Narrabri and Lismore.

Fairfax Media has learned that the NSW Office of Coal Seam Gas signed off on the latest stage of the project before receiving lab test results confirming the chemicals to be used were safe to human health and the environment.

The AGL pilot involves the controversial process of hydraulic fracturing or "fracking", which forces gas to the surface by pumping water, sand and chemicals underground.

There are fears it can cause gas leaks, damage aquifers and pollute water with toxic chemicals.

Companies must demonstrate that all fracking additives comply with Australian drinking water guidelines, by having them tested by a certified laboratory.

The NSW government approved AGL's fracking work on August 6, despite officials not receiving the test results until more than two months later, on October 23.

A spokesman for Resources Minister Anthony Roberts said AGL was required to identify the chemicals to be used prior to approval being granted, but did not have to run tests on the chemicals before that date. The company was "compliant with its obligations", he said.

Greens MP Jeremy Buckingham said allowing AGL to start fracking before its chemicals were scientifically deemed compliant "defies common sense" and was at odds with community expectations.

AGL says the pilot will test the amount of gas produced from wells and provide data about the area's geology and groundwater.

A company spokeswoman said test results were supplied to authorities before fracking occurred and AGL had complied with government policy.  She said the results confirmed no banned substances were detected in its hydraulic fracturing fluids.

AGL reportedly required police escorts to move fracking equipment onto the site last week.

The spokeswoman said based on information from its private security team on Monday, "protesters were aggressive" and threw punches at guards who were attempting to prevent protesters from accessing the site.

"In one incident a security guard fell into the river and a protester allegedly tried to hold his head under water. A third security guard suffered a cut to his arm," she said.

A spokesman for Mr Roberts said the minister met with concerned community members from Gloucester last week and authorities would "make regular inspections of the [AGL] fracking sites to ensure compliance".

The department "has and will continue to ensure a detailed level of transparency" around coal seam gas applications, he said.

In a report into the industry released last month, NSW Chief Scientist Mary O'Kane said the government should "establish a world-class regime" for coal seam gas extraction and ensure good communication about the industry's activities.

Laws should be supported by a transparent and effective compliance and reporting regime, she said.


Greens protest visa ban on West Africans

Showing that they are really Leftists.  What part of the natural world is threatened by quarantining Ebola?

THE Greens say shutting the door on west African refugees is cruel and selfish.

THE Immigration Department is no longer processing any humanitarian visa applications from Ebola-affected countries, which include Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea.

The government is also cancelling and refusing non-permanent or temporary visas held by people who haven't yet departed these countries for Australia.

Permanent visa holders who have yet to arrive in Australia are being required to submit to a 21-day quarantine period before departure.

Greens immigration spokesperson Sarah Hanson-Young says it is a miserly, selfish and cruel announcement.

"Banning refugees from fleeing west Africa is like shuttering up the windows while a house burns down," Senator Hanson-Young said, calling for the decision to be reversed.

Immigration Minister Scott Morrison says the systems are in place to protect Australians.


South Australian Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young accused of hypocrisy over fossil fuel campaign targeting Santos

Mining and extractive industries are one of the few things S. Australia has going for it so having a South Australian senator attacking such industries is very grievous

GREENS Senator Sarah Hanson-Young is being accused of hypocrisy for targeting fossil fuel companies, yet relying on their products for taxpayer-funded flights and limousine travel.

Treasurer Tom Koutsantonis said public criticism of the campaign urging Adelaide universities to divest shares in resources companies including Santos exposed the hypocrisy of the Greens’ stance.

He said arguments about such important matters should be based on science, not emotion, stressing natural gas produced by Santos was an important transition fuel.

“If you’re going to rely on science, you should rely on science all the time and if you believe that climate change is real then it’s an argument about science,” Mr Koutsantonis said in an interview with the Sunday Mail. “But then when you try to use emotive arguments to try to discredit scientists, you fall flat on your face.

“I think Senator Hanson Young’s hypocrisy by having a reliance on fossil fuels, whether it be through aeroplane flights or using a Comcar, like all of us do, just shows that her argument isn’t based on fact or science. It’s based on ideology.”

However, Senator Hanson-Young’s spokesman rejected the Treasurer’s argument as a petty and baseless distraction, saying all Greens had negated the environmental impact of their travel for years through self-funded carbon offset and abatement options.

Mr Koutsantonis, also the Mineral Resources and Energy Minister, said he believed Australians wanted pragmatic politicians who searched for out-comes, rather than crusading on ideology without regard for the impacts. “If you’re serious about saving the planet, then practice what you preach,” Mr Koustantonis said.

Mr Koutsantonis and federal Liberal MP Jamie Briggs have been prominent critics of the divestment campaign, which resulted in Australian National University earlier this month deciding to sell stocks in seven companies, including those of Santos.

But the campaign has been resisted by Flinders and Adelaide universities.

The latter has close links to Santos, which in 1999 provided $25 million to establish a world-class School of Petroleum Engineering.

Federal Education Minister Christopher Pyne, also MP for Sturt, told the Sunday Mail Senator Hanson-Young’s call for organisations to divest support from companies like Santos would have a huge impact on the community.

“If this is genuinely Senator Hanson-Young’s position, it is clear why the Greens can never be trusted to put the best interests of the state ahead of their ideological beliefs,” he said.

But Senator Hanson-Young’s spokesman said Mr Koutsantonis’s petty behaviour showed the desperation of the fossil-fuels industry and the political parties that relied on their donations to survive.

“The fact is that South Australia stands to gain significantly from a pivot away from fossil fuels and towards the renewable energy industry of the future,” the spokesman said, in a written statement.

“It’s concerning for the state that the Treasurer is so openly and closely aligned to the mining lobby.”

The cost of taxpayer funded travel by MPs and senators is publicly available on the Finance Department website.

The latest in-formation for Senator Hanson-Young shows last year she took 114 domestic flights costing $60,990.75, a $4227.57 flight to PNG, three charter flights costing $8140.91 and Comcar limousine trips at $24,188.36.

Comcar’s fleet includes many six-litre V8 Holden Caprices, which are being replaced with LPG models and Ford Falcons with cleaner-burning liquid phase injection technology.

Qantas’s carbon offset calculator estimates the CO2 emissions share for one passenger from an Adelaide to Canberra flight is 131kg.

The figure for a single passenger on a Sydney-Port Moresby flight is 356kg of CO2 emissions. More than 95 per cent of flight emissions come directly from jet fuel combustion, Qantas says.



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