Cloud Cuckoo Land is a phrase that dates back to Aristophanes’ play, “The Birds”. Various literary references to it have followed, and nowadays, as Wikipedia tells us with an explanation which is perfect for present purposes:

Cloud cuckoo land is a state of absurdly, over-optimistic fantasy or an unrealistically idealistic state of mind where everything appears to be perfect. Someone who is said to “live in cloud cuckoo land” is a person who thinks that things that are completely impossible might happen, rather than understanding how things really are. It also hints that the person referred to is naive, unaware of realities or deranged in holding such an optimistic belief.

Which brings us to the news this morning of the Labour Party’s latest “green” policy initiative, reported on the BBC website as “Labour conference: Sir Keir Starmer backs net zero electricity to boost growth” and on the Observer website (which claims details of the plan were announced exclusively to it) as “Keir Starmer unveils green growth plan to counter Liz Truss’s tax cuts: Labour pledges a revolution in green energy to ‘boost jobs and slash emissions’”.

It would have been nice to go straight to the horse’s mouth, so to speak, and find the detail behind this announcement at, oh I don’t know, how about the Labour Party website? Unfortunately, when I found my way to the Policy Development Section I was met with the following message:

The Labour Policy Forum website is currently undergoing essential maintenance and will have limited functionality for a while. You will still be able to read NPF documents and others’ submissions, and see updates in our news feed. However, unfortunately while the maintenance is underway it will not be possible to log in, make submissions or comment on others’ submissions. We apologise for any inconvenience caused and will aim to have full functionality restored as soon as we can.

Those last few words (“We apologise for any inconvenience caused and will aim to have full functionality restored as soon as we can“) are a rather nice description of how Labour’s plans will leave the UK’s national energy system by the time they’re finished with it.

Unable to read the detail of this bold new vote-losing policy-initiative on the Labour Party website, I’m left cobbling it together from the BBC and Observer reports.

The first and most obvious point is that Labour claims that these new policy initiatives will be in place by 2030. Given that the last general election took place on 12th December 2019, then there is the distinct possibility that the next one will occur only in December 2024. If so, that would leave a Labour Government with just the five years that it might expect to enjoy in Government (once the British electorate enjoys the fruits of its policy – blackouts and expensive energy among them) in which to implement these policies by the beginning of 2030. And I mean by the beginning of 2030, since this is how the Observer reports it:

Keir Starmer will pledge to deliver a new era of economic growth and permanently lower energy bills by turning the UK into an independent green “superpower” before 2030, through a massive expansion of wind and solar energy. [My emphasis].

This is to be done by:

Doubling the amount of onshore wind;

Tripling solar power; and

Quadrupling offshore wind power.

The BBC also tells us that Labour will push for more “nuclear, hydrogen, and tidal power”.

Apparently all this will “re-industrialise” “the country to create a zero carbon, self-sufficient electricity system, by the end of this decade.

There we go again – by the end of this decade. Five years from the next general election. Doubling the amount of onshore wind will certainly industrialise what is left of our wild places. Only this morning the Sunday Post reported that Nature Scot is ceasing to object to new wind turbine applications in some areas because they can no longer be described as “wild” due to the proliferation of wind farms that are already in existence.

/

According to Sir Keir, the plan is “far more ambitious than any green policy advanced by the Tories and the most far-reaching of his leadership so far”. And it would:

release the British people from the mercy of “dictators” such as Russian president Vladimir Putin over energy bills.

It would also, he says, cut hundreds of pounds off annual household energy bills “for good”, create up to half a million UK jobs, and make this country the first to have a zero-emission power system.

Well, if you’re an inhabitant of Cloud Cuckoo Land I dare say that it all sounds rather marvellous. There’s just one problem:

Cloud cuckoo land is a state of absurdly, over-optimistic fantasy or an unrealistically idealistic state of mind…

The Observer goes on to tell us, as an illustration of this very point, that:

The idea at its core is to build a self-sufficient power system run entirely by cheap, homegrown renewables and nuclear, by the end of the decade. This, they argue, would also allow the country to become a major energy exporter.

Of course, even if several new nuclear power stations were commissioned on day one of a new Labour Government, they won’t be up and running “before the end of the decade”. And, if the National Grid is to operate without the input of fossil fuels, then we will need nuclear power to provide the despatchable power back-up necessary to ride to the rescue when the wind isn’t blowing and the sun isn’t shining. We aren’t told what we will do in the dead of winter when the sun barely appears over the horizon (in which case tripling solar power is an exercise in futility) and an anticyclone is settled over western Europe and the UK. The only obvious answer (not that it’s even mentioned) would be giga-battery storage systems. There’s just one problem – the technology doesn’t exist at the necessary scale yet, and there is absolutely no guarantee that it will exist at a reasonable price or at all, and be capable of being installed, by 2030. Even then, batteries saving us from blackouts assume that all this new renewable energy will actually provide us with sufficient surplus energy when the sun is shining and the wind is blowing to be stored and kept in reserve for those times when neither of those things are happening.

Cloud cuckoo land is a state of absurdly, over-optimistic fantasy or an unrealistically idealistic state of mind…

There are so many problems with this fantasy, that it’s difficult to know where to begin. Suffice it to say that quadrupling offshore wind is an absurdly optimistic plan, albeit one that is almost shared by the other occupants of Cloud Cuckoo Land who are currently in power:

As of 2020:

Offshore wind is a success story for the UK. Long term government support has underpinned innovation and investment in the sector, helping to drive down costs while contributing to decarbonisation of the economy. We now have the largest installed offshore wind capacity in the world, with 9.8 gigawatts (GW) installed which will rise to 19.5 GW by mid 2020s.

And:

A pathway to up to 30GW by 2030 provides a level of certainty unmatched by any other European government and means the UK will remain the anchor market for offshore wind.

Given that Sir Keir has (not unreasonably, in my view) criticised the recent “mini-budget” for its own Cloud Cuckoo Land aspects (not that he used those words) it’s interesting that the Shadow Chancellor, Rachel Reeves had already (before this latest policy announcement) committed to “spend an extra £28bn a year on making the UK economy more “green” if it wins power”. That’s £140 billion, before we even begin to look at the costs of the latest fantasy.

The fantasy continues:

“Our plan for clean power by 2030 will save the British people £93bn off their energy bills and break the UK’s vulnerability to Putin and his cronies,” said Sir Keir.

“It will also support our drive for higher growth and rising living standards.”

I would love to believe him, but I don’t. Assumptions about saving money for energy consumers must be based on the assumption that gas prices will never come down again, that coal isn’t cheap, and that renewables energy providers will rush in droves to sign up to real and meaningful CfD contracts (or some variant thereof), as opposed to the one-way options that they currently are, at prices around the recent round at £48 per MwH. Of course, they won’t, and if they do, they will presumably simply not trigger them, choosing (as they do now) to supply at market prices instead. Either Sir Keir doesn’t understand how CfDs work (and as a top lawyer, I would hope that he does) or he intends to ensure that in future they are drafted in a watertight manner, so that once signed up to them, renewable energy companies have no choice other than to deliver at agreed low prices.

Cloud cuckoo land is a state of absurdly, over-optimistic fantasy or an unrealistically idealistic state of mind…

The problem is that all this simply represents a game of top trumps. The sad reality is that all parties who hope to be in power, or perhaps to hold the balance of power, after the next general election, are committed to this nonsense to a greater or lesser degree.

Finally (from the Observer report):

Commenting on Labour’s energy plan, Greenpeace UK’s head of politics Rebecca Newsom said: “The only way out of this mess is a moonshot mission to roll out a renewables based energy system that can lower bills, cut emissions, create jobs and break our dependence on gas markets and fossil fuel autocrats.

Labour seems to have understood that, the Conservatives don’t.”

As I said:

Cloud cuckoo land is a state of absurdly, over-optimistic fantasy or an unrealistically idealistic state of mind…

27 Comments

  1. I recommend reading Ed’s piece about the 2021 wind drought. Politicians would do well to read it too.

    Like

  2. Partial transcript of Laura Kuenssberg’s interview with Keir Starmer this morning:

    KUENSSBERG: Now, if renewables aren’t reliable enough to provide 100% of electricity – I mean nobody [?would think that at this stage of the game?] – what do you fall back on, how do you keep the lights on?

    STARMER: Well you would always have a transition with oil and gas, of course you would, but we’ve got to have the ambition to get off fossil fuels when it comes to our power. This is a plan that can be delivered, it’s a plan that will drive down our prices, and it’s a plan that if the government had set off on this road, you know, 5 or 6 years ago, we wouldn’t be in the position we’re in.

    KUENSSBERG: But in terms of what you’re saying though, are you absolutely adamant that there will be no reliance on fossil fuels by 2030 or is it still there as a fall back? …

    STARMER: It might be there as a fall back. The plan is 2030, for all of our power, clean power. We think you can double onshore wind power, triple solar, and quadruple offshore wind power. It can be done. We need a government that is prepared to partner with business on an ambition that can be turned into a result in 2030.

    From about 13.00 if you are able to watch.
    https://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/m001ck10/sunday-with-laura-kuenssberg-25092022

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Not sure I can bear to watch it, but thanks for the transcript. It seems that there are caveats already, none of which are mentioned in the online BBC and Observer reports.

    Plainly there must be caveats, for the stated ambition is unachievable, certainly within the suggested timescale, and probably ever.

    So what does that make Sir Keir? Does he believe that the policy can be achieved, whilst being a bit nervous about it? Or does he know full well that it’s Cloud Cuckoo Land stuff, but he thinks he has to say it to keep the pro- net zero media on board? If the latter, will he find convenient reasons to be blown off course once the reality and responsibilities of power take hold?

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Mark, I don’t think Starmer is going to win the election. His new policy will appeal to those in the party’s social media bubble, and the wider media and the clueless commentariat. If you did watch Laura Kuenssberg’s show back, you will have heard Frances O’Grady saying the most absurd things about energy.

    Unfortunately it looks as if the new Tory leadership has refused to grasp the nettle, and are trying to keep their green back benches on board with more absurd policies.

    It’s looking like it will require something very serious to occur before we adopt a rational approach to energy in the UK. Even then, I begin to worry that the spin machine is so powerful that a collapse in the grid caused by renewables will be diagnosed as an over-reliance on “volatile” fossil fuels.

    I’m going to put my tinfoil hat on and look into the cost of camping stoves. 😒

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Jit,

    I can’t see the Tories winning the next election, since they seem determined to trash everything now. How can any Chancellor of the Exchequer expect to be taken seriously when berating the Governor of the BoE for not doing enough to control inflation, when he then goes and embarks on a fiscally reckless inflationary policy?

    On the other hand, I think Labour may form the largest party after the next election, and I fear we’ll be saddled with a net zero coalition of chaos, with Starmer as PM, and Labour in coalition with maybe Lib Dems, SNP, Plaid Cymru (and the Greens if they ever return more than one MP).

    That said, listening this morning to the Today Programme on BBC Radio 4 as I drove to Swaledale to climb Great Shunner Fell, I marvelled at the way in which Rachel Reeves, Labour’s Shadow Chancellor, repeatedly sidestepped, without answering, extremely basic and simple questions from the interviewer. I think the electorate will be faced with the most appalling dilemma next time round, namely which clueless incompetent shower to vote for. I’m at the spoiling my ballot stage, unless something improves dramatically regarding one of the parties between now and the next election.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. “Will Labour’s energy plans work?
    Simon Evans
    While there are questions about the pace of Labour’s proposals, criticism in rightwing newspapers is bizarrely wide of the mark”

    https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2022/sep/28/will-labours-energy-plans-work

    Up and running in the headline – stigmatise the critics (aka realists) in the eyes of Guardian readers, by labelling them right-wing.

    Labour’s ambitious plan for zero-carbon power by 2030 raises legitimate questions – which we’ll come to shortly – but the commentary in rightwing newspapers is bizarrely wide of the mark….

    There’s your first error. Labour’s half-baked plans are for zero-carbon electric by 2030, not for zero-carbon power. You are out by a factor of somewhere between 5 and 6.

    …Perhaps the strangest was a Daily Telegraph editorial that claimed Labour’s plan “would make the country more dependent on imported gas, not less”. As should be obvious, the opposite is true.

    The UK used 254 terawatt hours (TWh) of gas last year to generate 123TWh of electricity, 40% of the national total. Under Labour’s plan, gas demand for electricity would be 97% lower by 2030.

    (Why does it take 254TWh of gas to make 123TWh of electricity? Simply because burning fossil fuels is inefficient and half of the energy in the gas is wasted at the power station.)…

    As opposed to renewables, which are really, really efficient?

    Read on for more Cloud Cuckoo Land thinking. There is at least a modest caveat:

    …Reaching Labour’s ambition for 99% by 2030 would mean increasing the rate of growth from 2.9 percentage points a year up to 4.9, starting this year. If this sprint only begins after the next election in 2024, the pace would need to be faster, at more than 7 percentage points a year.

    These are not only mathematical challenges – and it is not only a matter of doubling onshore wind, tripling solar and quadrupling offshore wind, as Starmer has pledged. (Meeting these renewable targets is likely to require planning reform to speed up the process of approvals.)

    If Labour’s goal is to be met, the UK must also build new nuclear plants, gas plants with carbon capture and storage, hydrogen turbines with clean hydrogen to fuel them, along with huge increases in electricity network capacity, energy storage and “demand-side response”….

    Like

  7. The Guardian claims this an an exclusive, but I don’t think it is – I seem to remember reading (and posting here) about this several months ago:

    “Government tests energy blackout emergency plans as supply fears grow
    Exclusive: Whitehall officials have ‘war gamed’ Programme Yarrow, a blueprint for coping with outages for up to a week”

    https://www.theguardian.com/business/2022/nov/01/government-tests-energy-blackout-emergency-plans-as-supply-fears-grow

    Meanwhile, Ed carries on with his back-to-front thinking, ignoring the reality:

    Ed Miliband, the shadow climate secretary, said: “All governments do contingency planning for worst-case scenarios but the truth is that we are vulnerable as a country as a direct consequence of a decade of failed Conservative energy policy.

    “Banning onshore wind, slashing investment in energy efficiency, stalling nuclear and closing gas storage have led to higher bills and reliance on gas imports, leaving us more exposed to the impact of Putin’s use of energy as a geopolitical weapon.”

    Like

  8. “MPs criticise Whitehall free-for-all on reporting emissions
    Committee says vague guidance and lack of follow-up make it hard for public to hold government to account”

    https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2022/nov/02/mps-criticise-whitehall-free-for-all-on-reporting-emissions

    The UK government is failing to lead by example on taking action to cut greenhouse gas emissions and meet a legally binding target of reaching net zero by 2050, a watchdog has said.

    Across Whitehall departments the rules for reporting, gathering data and taking action are vague, there is a free-for-all on reporting emissions reductions or the lack of them, and oversight is fragmented and ineffective, the public accounts committee said on Wednesday.

    The committee chair, Meg Hillier, said: “The targets set to maintain our world in a livable state are not ‘nice to have’. Government made a legally binding commitment to deliver net zero by 2050. Government promised to lead the way to national decarbonisation, but isn’t even putting its own house in order.

    “Vague guidance and lack of follow-up make it hard for the public to hold the government to account. A free-for-all on reporting veils progress or lack of it. Government needs to be clearer and must publish consistent standards for measuring and reporting emissions across the public sector so that it can be properly held to account.”

    The Cloud Cuckoo Land statement in there is this:

    The targets set to maintain our world in a livable state are not ‘nice to have’

    First of all, climate change is not going to create a world that can’t be lived in. Secondly, nothing we in the UK do will make any difference.

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  9. The manner of the latest deferral of the Cumbrian coal mine decision seems to be even worse than I thought:

    “UK climate czar warns Sunak against opening new coal mine
    It’s time for Britain to live up to its climate promises, Alok Sharma tells POLITICO.”

    https://www.politico.eu/article/alok-sharma-rishi-sunak-un-cop27-uk-climate-czar-warns-sunak-against-opening-new-coal-mine/

    COP26 President Alok Sharma has told the British government to think again about plans to open the United Kingdom’s first new coal mine in a generation, warning that going ahead would be bad for jobs and the climate.

    On Tuesday night, the government delayed a decision on whether to give planning permission to the mine in Cumbria, northwest England. A decision had been due by November 8 — two days into the COP27 United Nations climate talks — but the deadline was postponed to December 8, according to a letter sent to campaign group Friends of the Earth….

    So Friends of the Earth are the first to hear about it?

    West Cumbria Mining, the company applying to build the Woodhouse Colliery, says the project will create up to 2,000 direct and indirect jobs.

    Sharma pointed to research from the Local Government Association, which found that up to 6,000 jobs could be created in Cumbria by 2030 if the county focused on green industries.

    The 6,000 so-called green jobs never seem to materialise. But even if the claim is true, it’s not true that you can’t have one set of jobs (associated with the coal mine) if you have the other (“green” jobs), and vice versa. Whatever happened to logic in politics?

    Like

  10. “Labour vows to lift ban on onshore wind”

    https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-63579588

    A Labour government would lift a planning ban on new onshore wind farms, Sir Keir Starmer has vowed.

    Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s refusal to back onshore wind “is about putting his party first, and the country second”, the Labour leader said.

    Mr Sunak scrapped a move by predecessor Liz Truss to relax planning rules to allow more onshore wind turbines.

    But Sir Keir said not backing onshore wind was a “national act of self-harm, choking off our economic potential”.

    Onshore wind is one of the cheapest forms of new power in the UK, and Sir Kier said that removing planning barriers would “slash energy bills”.

    Labour has already pledged to double onshore wind and quadruple offshore wind in its plan for clean power by 2030.

    During a visit to a wind farm in Grimsby, North Lincolnshire, on Thursday, Sir Keir said the plan would involve “persuading some communities to get on board”.

    He said he would not hesitate to ditch the planning ban on onshore wind so that “we can create tens of thousands of good quality skilled jobs”, even if it “means some communities adapting to a new landscape”.

    How many untruths and euphemisms can be sneaked into a single article?

    There is no ban on onshore windfarms in the UK; rather the English planning system is much more robust and fair than the system in Scotland (which is why Scotland Against Spin has petitioned the Scottish government seeking to make the Scottish planning system more like the English one).

    Secondly, wind turbines are neither so cheap as claimed, nor so beneficial as claimed to the UK economy, given their unreliable and intermittent energy production, disrupting the National Grid and requiring reliable fossil fuel back-up.

    Thirdly, persuading communities to get on board and adapting to a new landscape can reasonably be translated as “we’re going to trash your locality for what we arrogantly claim to be the greater good of the nation, so suck it up NIMBYs”.

    Why do UK politicians hate the British people (and its precious landscapes) so much?

    Liked by 1 person

  11. “Labour would create ‘anti-Opec’ alliance for renewable energy, says Miliband
    Shadow climate change secretary says group would cooperate to cut energy prices and promote clean technology”

    https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2022/nov/14/labour-would-create-anti-opec-alliance-for-renewable-energy-says-miliband

    The UK under a Labour government would form an “anti-Opec” alliance of countries dedicated to renewable energy, to bring down energy prices and promote clean technology, the shadow climate change secretary, Ed Miliband, has said.

    A clean power alliance would enable countries to cooperate to source components more cheaply, boost the expansion of wind, solar and other forms of low-carbon power, and potentially to share or export electricity across connected grids.

    Denmark, the Netherlands, Austria, Portugal, Costa Rica and Kenya are potential partners, and Miliband will be drumming up further support at the Cop27 UN climate summit, which he is visiting for several days. Labour is committed to 100% low-carbon electricity by 2030.

    “This potential clean power alliance is like an anti-Opec,” said Miliband, referring to the group of oil-producing countries. “I say anti-Opec because Opec is a cartel, a group of countries that works together to keep prices high. This would be a way in which countries join together to be the vanguard and say, ‘We’re going to deliver on clean power and it will help to cut prices, not just for us but for others’.”..

    …Labour’s plan for clean power by 2030 would cut bills by £93bn, according to the party’s analysis, through measures including energy efficiency and home insulation programmes, boosting renewable power include more onshore windfarms, and a windfall tax on the excess profits of oil and gas producers.

    Miliband said pushing for clean energy would also improve people’s health and quality of life. “We’re a country that is racked by terrible fuel poverty, and by the killer of air pollution, and by a deep desire for big economic change,” he said. “As [US president Joe] Biden has shown, being a leader on climate is an answer to all those things.”

    Deluded. Utterly deluded.

    Like

  12. Speaking of delusions:

    “Increasing demand for oil and fuel threatens African nations’ economies, analysis finds
    Carbon Tracker thinktank says investors in fossil fuels on the continent would be left with stranded assets”

    https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2022/nov/14/demand-for-oil-threatens-african–economies

    Expanding oil and gas exports would threaten the economic stability of many African countries, new analysis has found, despite soaring fossil fuel prices.

    Demand for fossil fuels is likely to fall sharply in the medium term, according to a report published on Monday by the Carbon Tracker thinktank. That makes relying on gas exports to fuel economic growth a short-term, risky strategy, while boosting solar power would prove a better long-term bet, the analysis found.

    Although gas prices are high now, and the top five oil and gas companies alone have made profits of more than $170bn so far this year, gas revenues would fall by half by 2040, and the gas market would see record low prices owing to shrinking demand, the report forecast.

    That would leave Africa with huge investments in gas infrastructure, but no export market, if countries pursued a “dash for gas” now, the analysis found.

    Kofi Mbuk, senior clean tech analyst at Carbon Tracker and lead author of the report, warned that companies investing in fossil fuels in Africa would be left with stranded assets. “The energy transition from fossil fuels to renewables is inevitable and irreversible,” he said. “The growth in energy demand globally and regionally is now being met by renewables and squeezing out fossil fuel demands. In Africa, and across emerging economies, solar and wind offer the best route for economic development.”

    Yeah, right. Funnily enough, the leaders of African countries don’t agree.

    If you want to read it, to see the delusions laid bare, the summary of the report can be found here:

    https://carbontracker.org/reports/african-sun-why-solar-not-gas/

    Unfortunately you have to log in to download the full report.

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  13. As should be apparent by alert visitors to this site, I am no Tory, and am no fan of this government (in any of its incarnations). However, on energy policy, bad though the Government is, the fear I have is that a Labour government would be even worse. Today, Rachel Reeves’ response to the autumn statement (even allowing for the fact that some parts of her response may have to be made on the hoof and be unscripted) demonstrates a worrying lack of understanding on the part of senior team members within the Government-in-waiting:

    https://labour.org.uk/press/rachel-reeves-response-to-the-chancellors-autumn-statement/

    And the Tories’ failure on energy goes back further. They closed down gas storage, blocked onshore wind and solar and slashed support for home insulation.

    The Tories didn’t close down gas storage (though they could be criticised for permitting it. However, permitting something is not the same as causing or doing it):

    https://www.gov.uk/government/news/rough-gas-storage-facility-undertakings-to-be-removed

    The CMA has confirmed its decision to remove undertakings from Rough gas storage.

    Removing these will facilitate the closure of the North Sea gas storage facility, which has been deemed unsafe by its operator.

    In June this year the facility’s operator, Centrica Storage Limited (CSL), announced that it intended to close the plant due to its age, physical deterioration and the associated safety risks, plus the high cost of refurbishing the facility to make it workable.

    The facility’s owners, Centrica plc (Centrica) and Centrica Storage Limited (CSL), requested that the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) remove historic undertakings – designed to ensure competition in the sector – as part of the closure process.

    Following a review the CMA has decided to release CSL and Centrica from the undertakings. Agreement to the closure by the Oil and Gas Authority is still required.

    So two QUANGOs/regulators facilitated the closure. The government didn’t close it (albeit a Government less fixated on net zero and more alert to the need for reliable energy supplies and energy security might have intervened to keep it open; such a government doesn’t sound like a Labour government either, given its current energy plans).

    Next – the government hasn’t blocked onshore wind and solar. It reduced subsidies, which makes such investments less attractive to foreign energy companies; and it maintains a reasonably level playing field in terms of planning laws, unlike north of the border, where the Scottish government regularly gives such developments the green light even in the face of significant local opposition. Reducing subsidies, and not allowing the planning system to be manipulated is not the same as “blocking” such developments. They simply ceased actively to facilitate them.

    Finally, I wonder if Rachel Reeves is aware of the expert pronouncement on the PM Radio programme today to the effect that meaningful insulation of UK housing stock would cost £270 billion?

    Liked by 1 person

  14. “Onshore wind rules to be relaxed after Tory revolt”

    https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-63880999

    The government has pledged to relax restrictions on building onshore wind farms in England after a threatened rebellion from Conservative MPs.

    A rule requiring new turbines to be built on pre-designated land will be rewritten, the levelling up department said.

    Around 30 backbenchers had threatened to make the change through a planning bill going through Parliament.

    New wind farms would still be subject to local approval.

    The precise method of measuring local opinion will be part of a wider consultation which will conclude by next April.

    I can’t say I have much confidence in the way in which local opinion is to be measured. North of the border it tends to be ignored when it comes to wind farms, and our Lords and Masters at Westminster seem to be determined to replicate the Scottish “system”.

    When it comes to assessing local opinion regarding the proposed Cumbrian underground waste facility (aka the nuclear dump by Cumbrians) the body set up to canvas opinion doesn’t even respond to emails. And this second attempt to impose the “facility” on us comes after the first attempt was rejected by Cumbria County Council, the government having assured Cumbrians that if any of the three local authorities involved in the process rejected the plan, that would be the end of the matter. So, forgive me for not trusting one little bit those weasel words “subject to local approval”.

    Liked by 1 person

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  16. “Siemens Power CEO Confirms the Iron Law of Power Density”

    https://www.realclearenergy.org/articles/2022/12/02/siemens_power_ceo_confirms_the_iron_law_of_power_density_867905.html

    Last month, the CEO of Siemens Energy, Christian Bruch, appeared on CNBC’s “Squawk Box Europe” to talk about the myriad problems facing the wind industry. And during his appearance, he confirmed the Iron Law of Power Density.

    Bruch said his firm was “in the heart of the energy transition” but there were “challenges” in wind energy, particularly with regard to supply chains. And this is where his comments revealed what I call the Iron Law of Power Density, which says the lower the power density of a given source, the higher the resource intensity. Bruch said: “Never forget, renewables like wind roughly, roughly, need 10 times the material [compared to] … what conventional technologies need…So if you have problems on the supply chain, it hits … wind extremely hard, and this is what we see.”

    Siemens and other companies that produce wind turbines are being hammered by huge losses. Siemens just posted a net loss of 647 million euros, which was up from a 560 million euro loss in the previous year. In October, GE announced that its renewable energy business will lose a staggering $2 billion this year. Those losses are being driven in large part, by the surging cost of metals like zinc, nickel, neodymium, and copper.

    If your power plant requires 10 times more of those commodities than other forms of power generation, it’s readily apparent why the Siemens boss is saying his company is having “problems on the supply chain.” And those problems are a direct result of wind energy’s low power density.

    Liked by 2 people

  17. From Net Zero Watch today:

    “Rishi Sunak’s incoherent energy policy will poison Britain’s future”

    With one hand the British Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak, is banning exploration for natural gas onshore in the UK, and with the other he is encouraging further development of physically inferior energy sources such as wind and solar. It seems that the government does not understand the importance of thermodynamic quality in energy supply, and has misdiagnosed the causes of the present energy supply and cost crisis.

    Britain’s energy crisis is the result of decades of failing renewables-centric energy policy, policy which has eroded energy security and left the country vulnerable to events such as Russia’s invasion of the Ukraine.

    The Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak, is reportedly considering reintroducing policy support for onshore wind. Many media sources are misreporting this as the lifting of a “ban” on this technology, though in point of fact there is no such ban preventing the building of wind farms. The then Prime Minister, David Cameron, removed subsidies for onshore wind, and thus reduced development interest, since the technology, like nearly all renewables, remains fundamentally uneconomic due to its inferior physical properties.

    Whether Mr Sunak will reintroduce direct income support subsidies or provide non-market support through other routes such as tax breaks and favourable Power Purchase Agreements with government bodies, or “must buy” status with the increasingly nationalised retail markets, remains unclear. But such measures will be necessary since wind cannot compete as a pure merchant generator due to the penalties that it would face for non-delivery caused by unpredictable intermittency.

    Inevitably, such policy support for onshore wind must be paid for by burdening the consumer with additional costs at some point in the electricity supply system.

    In parallel with this blunder, and compounding it, Mr Sunak’s government is dragging its feet in preventing developers of solar photovoltaic installations from covering quite literally hundreds of thousands of acres of British farmland with PV generation, thus swapping food production for low grade electricity.

    Weak planning guidance has permitted and even encouraged development on Agricultural Land Class 3b, which is by no means bad land, and thus incentivised the misrepresentation of higher classes of land. It should be emphasised that all farmland is a national asset that should not be wasted by development as malinvestment in solar, or indeed as wind “farms”.

    The situation suggests that Mr Sunak’s government is poorly informed and acting irresponsibly. Neither wind nor solar is thermodynamically competent, the fuels being of high entropy and of little intrinsic value. No capable government would encourage them. And no capable government would discourage exploration for high quality fuels such as natural gas, but this is precisely what Mr Sunak’s government is now doing with the ban on hydraulic fracturing.

    Dr John Constable, NZW’s energy director, said:

    “To continue intellectually bankrupt and counterproductive policies in the middle of an energy crisis of unprecedented magnitude suggests that the machinery of government in Westminster has ceased to work, and that rational analysis can no longer effect a change of course. The outlook for the consumer and the country as whole is very bleak.”

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  18. British fracked gas bad, American fracked gas good:

    “UK aims to double US gas imports under new deal”

    https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-63885968

    The UK has agreed to double imports of US gas over the next year as it tries to stabilise soaring energy prices.

    Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said the plan would “bring down prices for British consumers and help end Europe’s dependence on Russian energy”.

    Funny, that. Proponents of UK fracking for shale gas are regularly told that it’s a global market and extracting UK gas won’t make any difference to prices.

    Liked by 1 person

  19. The Guardian keeps stating that the Cumbria mine will produce emissions: “The mine will also produce an estimated 400,000 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions a year, increasing the UK’s emissions by the equivalent of putting 200,000 cars on the road.”

    In fact the emissions produced by the mine itself will be small especially as the workers will have EV charging points! Producing steel requires this type of metallurgical coal. You can’t use wind power to make steel. Rather the other way round as you need steel to make wind turbines.

    I was amused by this though: “The government said the mine was possible within the UK’s climate legislation, which requires the UK to reach net zero emissions by 2050, as operations will shut down by 2049.”
    https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2022/dec/07/uk-first-new-coalmine-for-30-years-gets-go-ahead-in-cumbria

    Liked by 1 person

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