Who needs gas?
THE energy crisis has brought the inevitable calls for yet more renewable energy, in order to reduce reliance on natural gas.
For instance, accountancy giant KPMG’s energy chief Simon Virley said last month that the Government should ‘double down’ on green energy as it moves towards net zero by 2050: ‘This will help to reduce our growing dependency on imported fossil fuels, boost energy security and meet our carbon reduction goals.’
For an ‘energy chief’, Mr Varley shows a remarkable lack of understanding about energy production.
Even John Selwyn Gummer’s Committee on Climate Change calculated that we would still need 125 TWh of gas-generated electricity in 2030, even with our projected ‘Saudi Arabia of wind’. This is actually more than gas power stations produce now, and would supply about a third of demand. The grid simply would not be able to operate on intermittent renewable power alone.
But it does not stop with electricity production, which accounts for less than a third of the natural gas we consume in the UK. The rest is used for heating homes, and by industry, agriculture, the public sector and so on.
There is no way that this gas could be properly replaced by other energy sources in that time scale, or for that matter by 2050. There will never be sufficient electricity capacity to meet peak demands for heating during winter, and distribution networks could not handle it even if there was.
As for hydrogen, which is often talked up as the ‘clean, green’ fuel of the future, the only way we could make it in bulk would be via steam reforming. This process, however, uses gas, and a lot of it. Indeed, you would need a lot more gas to produce hydrogen than you would if you had used gas in the first place. This is because the steam reforming process wastes a lot of energy.
What we need to ‘double down’ on then is securing more supplies of natural gas, preferably home grown, whether from fracking or the North Sea.
But you would not expect KPMG’s energy chief to know that!
Air pollution myths
They say that if you tell a lie often enough, it becomes the truth. That is certainly true of the repeated claim that air pollution leads to 40,000 early deaths a year in the UK, a lie recently spouted by the British Safety Council.
So where do these numbers come from? After all, no death certificate states ‘pollution’ as a cause of death.
Although other studies have come up with similar figures since, they are all based around one solitary US study in 2002, a study which has been widely criticised since. It was not based on actual data, but computer modelling.
One of its biggest flaws was that it the models took no account of socio-economic status, something that would be expected to have a major impact on mortality.
One leading Canadian statistician, Ross McKitrick, took the model and fed it with data from Toronto in the 1960s, when pollution was far worse than now. The results that the model spewed out claimed that more people had died from pollution than had died in total from all causes!
What we can say is that air pollution levels in Britain have fallen dramatically since the 1970s, thanks to Clean Air Acts and progressively tightening regulation. Furthermore, pollution, even in our big cities, is just a tiny fraction of the levels in most of the world.
Air Pollution Trends in the UK
Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs
According to respiratory physician Dr Anthony Frew, who served on the original Royal College of Physicians working party on air pollution, the claim is a ‘zombie statistic – however much you try to kill it, it comes back and it’s simply not true’.
While the energy crisis worsens, a row is developing over whether we should open up the huge oilfield off the Shetlands, called Cambo.
Shell are still evaluating the field, which has the potential to supply 5 per cent of the country’s needs for the next 25 years.
Naturally, however, the BBC’s coverage has been almost wholly anti-oil, and it is opposed by Labour and the SNP.
Currently oil supplies 35 per cent of the UK’s energy. It seems crazy to look such a gift horse in the mouth just to satisfy a handful of green loonies.
It Ain’t Half Hot, Mum!
Apparently the British Army now has a Green Tsar, General Nugee, brother-in-law of Lady Nugee, aka Labour MP Emily Thornberry.
According to the MoD, he was appointed last year to lead a review ‘which will explore how the department can better incorporate climate change and sustainability considerations into defence’s processes and policy decisions’.
What gems has he come up with so far? Last month he advised that ‘climate change is stopping soldiers from exercises as it is increasingly too hot to train’.
How on earth does this idiot think the Eighth Army managed at El Alamein? Or Slim’s Fourteenth Army in Burma?
Still, we can rest easy knowing that in his view lots of new recruits will join up because of the Armed Forces’ commitment to fighting climate change. They might not be any good in a fight, but at least they’ll have a low carbon footprint!