Tuesday, 26 January 2016

Power from Peat : A Lesson from the Past

100 years ago, energy experts advised us that we could reduce dependence on imported coal by using our own peat to power industry. Germany and Denmark were held up as examples to follow for Ireland. Sound familiar ? Peat, notwithstanding the environmental impact on bogs from it's large scale extraction, is one of the most polluting sources of fuel and Ireland is still using it as a power generation source today (although the subsidy is to phased out). We can now see that the energy experts got it really wrong. The claims they made at the time are reminiscent of claims been made now by green energy advocates. 

Newspaper article from 1916

Before we begin harvesting our own fuel sources, proper analysis needs to be carried out. Peat generation eventually needed a subsidy to remain profitable. Coal generation never required a subsidy.

We now have technical and environmental assessments that carry legal standing to ensure this doesn't happen again. Why aren't we doing them ?

Saturday, 23 January 2016

Danish Electricity Exports worth just € 31 million last year

Wind energy could contribute an additional €5 billion per year to gross domestic product (GDP) in the next decade if Ireland exports renewable power, according to a new report. 
The report by global engineering firm Pöyry Management Consulting was compiled for the Irish Wind Energy Association (IWEA), the national association for the wind industry. The findings were presented at an IWEA conference in Dublin yesterday - Irish Times, March 2014.
The idea seems simple on the face of it - build lots of windfarms in the Irish midlands and export the wind energy to Britain at a large profit. What could go wrong ? Well, for those who don't do their analysis, a lot could go wrong. The main problem is that wind exports are not as valuable a commodity as is often made out (oddly enough by the wind industry).

Let's look at Denmark. As you can see, in 2010, exports were worth € 215 million while in 2015 they were worth just € 31 million. Exports (in GWh) reduced each year, reflecting the fact that wind penetration increased at the same time - hence there was less surplus wind to export. But the wholesale price for exports dropped by two thirds in the same period. This reflects lower wholesale prices around Europe as gas and oil prices fell aswell as the huge surpluses created by the current over capacity.  As a result, more and more subsidies have now become required to keep power stations open and renewable generators viable.

Net export
Denmark: total export for all hours with net export. Other hours had a net import (PF Bach).

 € 31 million is only about 0.015% of the wholesale electricity market in Ireland. An amount that is hardly worth building a new industry around here in Ireland and certainly very far from the € 5 billion alluded to above.

Monday, 18 January 2016

Eirgrid : Major Expansion of Transmission Network required for Renewables

Eirgrid have confirmed what most energy experts in the country had long believed was the case :

EirGrid notes the CER’s recognition that the Government target of ensuring 40% of Ireland’s electricity is generated by renewable sources by 2020 means a major expansion of the transmission network.

So will these grid and transmission upgrades now be included as a cost for wind energy ?

The fact is that wind energy is subsidized and cross subsidized many times - REFIT, Grid upgrades, DS3 Programme, constraint and curtailment payments, Admin / legal costs, interconnectors, smart meters, DSUs, tax reliefs - all required to accommodate large amounts of wind in the system.

ESB Issue Warning about Smart Meters


ESB have issued a warning about the discriminatory nature of smart meters and the negative impact they will have on working families. Their response to the Energy Regulator (CER) consultation can be read here. Ireland will be the only country to make smart meters mandatory in the EU. In Germany, they are only installed in houses that will benefit from them. But the Irish Energy Regulator intends to install them in every home by 2018.

However, we would restate our position regarding the mandating of a STT for all residential customers. The structure of the proposed mandated TOU tariff, will consist of day, night and peak time bands with three options for peak between 5-7, 5-9 and 7-9 pm. By definition, those who will benefit from TOU tariffs either already use more electricity at cheaper times of day, or are willing and able to shift their demand accordingly. Those households that are best off under the TOU tariff are those with below average consumption at peak times or those that are at home and able to shift consumption to off peak times. TOU tariffs will negatively impact families returning home from work and education in the evenings to cook dinner, eat together and heat the home and those with non discretionary load. 

We would repeat the point we made in our response to CER15053 in March this year that during the NSMP trial 50% of consumers involved incurred higher bills of up to €30 per annum and 50% of consumers involved saved up to €30 per annum. By introducing a mandated TOU tariff with a backstop date the CER risks seeing 50% of consumers incur higher bills after the roll out of smart meters (Electric Ireland (ESB) - September 2015).

Sunday, 10 January 2016

Ireland still as dependent on Energy Imports as in 2006

After 2,400MW of wind farm installations, one could be forgiven for thinking that Ireland might have reduced it's dependency on fossil fuels imports. When you dig through the SEAI reports, you will find that actually all we have done is reduced our import dependency by 1% - from 90% in 2006 when we had no wind energy whatsoever on the grid to 89% in 2013.

This is evidence that our power stations are still running all the time regardless of how much wind we have and the new interconnector from England has simply replaced a power station in Dublin (Huntstown) which itself was dependent on gas from UK. 

Memo to Alex White : the wind farms are not replacing power stations so why keep throwing away subsidies to them ?

Monday, 4 January 2016

Impact of Wind Turbines on Birds of Prey in Ireland

An Irish Buzzard

Three years ago (2011) a sea eagle died after colliding with a blade at a wind farm at Sillerthane, near Kilgarvan - Irish Times 2014.
“Shooting is not the biggest problem, poisoning has killed the most and three have flown into wind turbines - White Tailed Eagle reintroduction project manager Dr Allan Mee (2014)
Evidence for bird of prey collisions with wind turbines is small - about six or seven in the past few years, most notably from tagged eagles that have been re-introduced into Ireland from Norway. This makes it easy to track and record deaths of these birds. However, deaths of native birds of prey e.g. buzzards and falcons are more difficult to track as most, if not all, go unreported. And as any farmer will tell you, a dead bird will be picked up by a scavenger within hours.

There have only been three studies carried out into Wind Turbine bird fatalities in Ireland. They were all carried out at Lisheen Wind Farm and have been obtained under Freedom of Information.

In 2010, two sparrowhawks carcasses were found shortly after operation of the wind turbines. In 2012, a carcass of a kestrel and a buzzard were found beside a wind turbine. Other dead birds were also found such as crows, gulls and pigeons. Only two dead crows were found and no birds of prey during 2013/14 searches. This tends to show that most bird kills occur during the first couple of years of operation. However, many more studies would be required to establish enough evidence to form a proper conclusion.

The Lisheen studies conclude with a very important statement :
"most studies rely on the number of carcasses found, but this can be extremely unreliable, since it is known that carcasses are quickly removed by predators"

So we really do not know the full impact of wind turbines on birds of prey. Green advocates will argue that cars and pets kill more birds. But they fail to discern between birds of prey and common birds. Pets are incapable of killing larger and rarer birds. Cars have been known to kill large birds, in particular low flying owls, but to a much lesser extent buzzards and eagles. The Lisheen study makes this distinction clear :

Species that are long lived and have low productivity (such as many birds of prey) are at higher risk of population level impact through individual losses than short lived and highly productive bird species.
So there is no danger to gull or crow populations from wind turbines but there is a significant threat to birds of prey. A worrying development is that An Bord Pleanala don't seem to consider the threat to protected wild birds much of an issue and have even ignored their own inspectors, for example in the case of a wind farm in Roscommon which was eventually refused permission after a High Court challenge by local man, Ted Kelly:

Mr Kelly also alleged the Board failed to specify exactly why it approved permission for the developments when two of its own inspectors recommended permission be refused after appeal hearings. The inspectors concerns included the visual impact of the developments and their impact on birds and habitats of conservation. He claimed the development of 16 turbines at Croan is likely to impact on ten sites of conservation importance in south Roscommon, including three nature 2000 sites at Lough Croan, Four Road Turlough and the River Suck Callows, with particular concern expressed about the impact on Whooper Swans, Greenland White-Fronted Geese and Golden Plover. The second development would adversely impact on both bird and bat species, it was alleged.
There is also the habitat impact. For example, Carrickaduff wind farm in Donegal requires 121 hectares of deforestation. This impacts other bird species and bats.

The problem for bird of prey numbers is that many wind farms are built in high areas with high winds - the same areas most bird of prey species occupy. The Bird Societies in Ireland seem to think that wind farms and birds of prey are compatible but I see no evidence for how this could be. The wind industry certainly don't care about birds as can be seen in some of their planning applications for wind farms in areas of special interest.  It is left then to local objectors and true bird enthusiasts to defend these majestic animals from this new attack on their existence.

Sunday, 3 January 2016

John Gibbons - Are winters getting colder or warmer ?

John Gibbons, the climate alarmist at An Taisce seems to be confused as to whether Climate Change is causing winters in Ireland to get warmer or cooler.

Compare these two statements made on his blog, one from 2010 and the other from 2015:

2010 Quote - John Gibbons :

“First, the good news: despite concerns, the Gulf Stream, the powerful current that transfers vast amounts of heat from the equator to north-western Europe, does not appear to be faltering. Were it to stop entirely, average winter temperatures in Ireland would plummet by 5 degrees C, meaning the current freeze would be a regular fixture for several months every year.These anomalies could triple the probability of cold winter extremes in Europe and northern Asia,” according to Vladimir Petoukhov, lead author of the study. “Recent severe winters like last year’s or the one of 2005-06 do not conflict with the global warming picture, but rather supplement it.”

"I invite you to read this sub-section in full. It confirms that Ireland’s average air temperature has risen by 0.8C in the last century, and that this has already impacted, for instance, the growing season. By mid-century, is says, all seasons are likely to be 1-1.5 warmer, but it’s not all doom and gloom by any means: “Milder winters will lead to a reduction in winter mortality due to fewer cold spells but the increasing likelihood of heatwaves and hot days (days over 30 °C) may have the opposite effect in summer.”
So there you have it - we are going to have severely cold and milder winters at the same time. 

While Gibbons is perfectly entitled to believe in whatever he likes, the worrying thing is that the building of more wind farms and Climate Bills which drive up carbon taxes are both justified by this contradictory "science".

And the Irish media, like in the days of the Celtic Tiger, are driving the bandwagons off the cliff.

Friday, 1 January 2016

Irish Wind Output Lows of 2015

Reblogged from CAWT blog

As 2015 begins to fade into the memory the media will be full of lists of the “highs and lows” from the year.  Last year our report of the Irish wind output lows for 2014 was one of the most read posts on our blog so here are the lows for 2015 (ROI).
As with last year our print media only seem capable of reporting on wind output highs – no doubt the data is churned out of the Irish Wind Energy Association (IWEA) PR department, see for example Stormy Week Sees Wind Energy Hit Record Generation (PDF).  In order to provide a little balance set out below is a table of the lowest wind output recorded, for the Republic of Ireland, in each of the last twelve months.  The lowest recorded being periods in August, September and October when wind output was at a sustained level of just 1MW (all figures were sourced from EirGrid information webpage).
MonthOutput LowDate & Time
January16MW22/01/2015 01:30
February5MW10/02/2015 07:00
March3MW18/03/2015 03:45
April5MW07/04/2015 09:30
May14MW07/05/2015 07:30
June6MW23/06/2015 09:00
July3MW01/07/2015 10:00
August1MW18/08/2015 09:30
September1MW07/09/2015 07:45
October1MW03/10/2015 15:30
November11MW04/11/2015 04:45
December20MW26/12/2015 10:30
For some context for readers in relation to the output figures, according to IWEA the island of Ireland has 233 wind farms (199 in ROI) with an installed capacity of 3,042MW (2,400 in ROI).   Demand on the island of Ireland fluctuates between 2,600MW – 6,100MW but reached a high of 6,878MW in December 2010.  It is clear therefore that wind energy outputs of between 1MW – 20MW (ROI) represent a very poor return for the Republic’s 2,400MW installed capacity.
So, the next time you read an IWEA inspired “record Irish wind output” story check back to this page and visit EirGrid’s information page to confirm that despite the spin, the energy produced by wind turbines is unpredictable, intermittent and totally dependent on the backup of conventional fossil fuelled power plants such as those fuelled by gas, oil, coal or peat.

Recent Floods and Climate Change - Time to Break the Link

This is not to single out Ms Donnelly. Dr Gerard Fleming, its head of forecasting and forecaster Evelyn Cusack have both been at pains in their recent public utterances on the almost unprecedented series of December flooding events to ensure no one could form the impression this latest freak weather is part of any larger pattern, or, heaven forbid, be actually be precisely what we can expect from climate change - Think or Swim Blog.
The above blog is quite clear - climate change is causing the recent floods in Ireland. What it doesn't tell you is that natural variability plays a significant part in events like these. The recent floods are happening because of the El Nino in the Pacific Ocean and changes in the Jetstream. When climate events occur that refuse to comply with Memo's issued by Climate Alarmists, we are told that these particular events are in fact due to natural variations :
But natural climate variability means there are plenty of local or temporary events – such as cold winters – that appear to contradict the warming trend. Some years see smaller pressure differences than normal – a condition scientists call the negative phase of the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO). This causes the jet stream to weaken and to shift south to the Mediterranean, cutting off our supply of mild, Atlantic air and allowing more frequent incursions of cold air from continental Europe and Russia.
Scientists are still investigating what causes the negative NAO that brings us cold winter weather. Studies show an influence on the NAO from El Niño and La Niña – the spreading of warmer- or cooler-than-normal waters across the equatorial Pacific that is known to influence global climate patterns. There's also evidence that low phases of the sun's 11-year activity cycle might influence the NAO and thus bring cold winters to Britain - The Guardian, December 2011.  

So Natural Variability is responsible for cold dry weather, but Climate Change is responsible for warm wet weather. Alarmists want to have their cake and eat it.  Anyone keeping an eye on the jetstream can tell you that the recent mild December was 100% due to changes in the jetstream that brought warm air from the Equator to Ireland. This is in stark contrast to the past few winters when the jetstream was bringing cold Arctic air. 

Jetstream brought warm air from the Equator in December 2015

December 2014 - the jetstream was bringing cold Arctic air to Ireland

The floods in the Shannon and elsewhere have occurred in the recent past, namely - 1923, 1924, 1928, 1929, 1930, 1938, 1946, 1947, 1949 and 1950. Therefore, serious flooding in Ireland was a one-in-three-year-event from 1920 to 1950. 

Its guidance on the IPCC science on emissions and, in particular, the need for ‘Early action…to reduce the chances of dangerous climate change’ is clear and leaves little room for the peddling of dangerous nonsense which, regrettably, still passes for discourse on climate change in parts of our media, most notably RTE’s flagship current affairs programme, ‘PrimeTime’. Its show, broadcast on December 3rd last, under the title ‘The cost of climate change’ featured a studio ‘debate’ so badly skewed and so blatantly misleading that, were it about almost any other subject than climate change, the editor of PrimeTime would by now be busy updating his CV for the 2016 jobs market - Think or Swim Blog.

However, this is what the IPCC actually has to say about flooding :

In summary, there continues to be a lack of evidence and thus low confidence regarding the sign of trend in the magnitude and/or frequency of floods on a global scale - IPCC, 2013, p.112.  
So Met Eireann are quite correct not to attribute the recent floods and wet weather to the bogeyman of "climate change". If climate change is occurring it will be a slow gradual process over many decades, with very slight gradual changes in temperature and weather. The problem for this theory is that there is not, as any scientist will tell you, a linear link between CO2 emissions and temperature increases. Instead, it is a logarithmic relationship, meaning that most of the warming due to CO2 emissions had already occurred before man discovered how to use fossil fuels.

And what is the trend for winter weather in recent times ?  An analysis done in a previous Irish Energy Blog article shows that in five of the past seven winters (from 2009 to 2015), temperatures were below the long term average and the climate was drier than average.

Unfortunately, those who shout the loudest get heard more than those who use cool and calm scientific analysis (See for example RTE Prime Time programme on December 3rd featuring Ray Bates and Prime Time debate from 2007 featuring Morgan Kelly on the banking situation). So we will probably see more and more of the Irish media and institutions bending to pressure from the hysterical doomsdayers

Cost Benefit Analysis for Wind Energy on the way ?

According to the Minister, a Cost Benefit Analysis for wind energy is on the way, something that this blog has noted was a legal obligation in the first place. However, how independent will it be and shouldn't there be a moratorium on all new wind farms until it's publication ? Sounds like it will only be giving one result and one result only....

A Very Happy New Year to all readers.