THE government’s ‘Saudi Arabia of Wind’ strategy lies in tatters. It was predicated upon the theory that offshore wind power was now much cheaper than fossil fuel or nuclear power. However this ran contra to the construction costs reported by the companies building them.
The government’s assumptions were derived from the contract prices awarded via Contracts for Difference (CfD) auctions in recent years, which have dropped as low as £51/MWh. Historically wholesale prices for electricity have ranged between £40 and £50/MWh, but have lately risen to around £200/MWh. CfDs offer offshore wind farms an index-linked, guaranteed price for all the electricity they produce for the first 15 years of their life. If market prices are less, the government tops it up with a subsidy, and if they are more the wind farm must repay the difference to the government.
However, under the rules for CfDs written originally by Sir Ed Davey when he was Energy Secretary, wind farm operators are under no obligation to take up the contract when they start production. And with market prices now so high, that is exactly what they have chosen to do.
In fact, an analysis by GB News has revealed that no new wind farms have triggered their contracts since the energy crisis began last year. Just one wind farm, Moray East, which is owned by Spanish EDP Renewables, stands to make half a billion pounds this year from this tactic. And it is energy consumers who will pay the bill.
Meanwhile existing offshore wind farms, who have already taken up the contracts, are earning a very healthy £170/MWh on average, because the earlier bids were much higher in price.
As far as bill-payers are concerned, it is heads you lose, tails I win!
To add to their misery, we also know that Moray East is being paid huge amounts to switch off for a quarter of the time it is generating, because there is too much wind power for the National Grid to handle.
The Net Zero plan depends on the electrification of transport, heating and industry, with the power being supplied by low carbon electricity. In turn the costings for this have been based on ‘cheap’ offshore wind power. If offshore wind is much dearer than previously thought, and estimates suggest it could be double the cost, Net Zero will be even more unaffordable than we had imagined.
Heatwaves in the Antarctic
This month’s BBC Climate Check focuses on the Antarctic. According to the BBC’s spiel: ‘As the planet warms, one of the biggest challenges Antarctica faces is climate change. BBC Weather’s Sarah Keith-Lucas explains how rising temperatures are affecting the frozen continent.’
Keith-Lucas starts by falsely claiming that the region is warming at three times the global average. In fact, scientific studies have shown that most of the continent has been getting colder, not warmer. Even the Antarctic Peninsula, which went through a warming spell at the end of the 20th century, has not got any warmer since 1998. These inconvenient facts rather undermine the rest of her video!
She goes on to report on one day of slightly less cold weather in March, which was the result of an ‘atmospheric river’, an intrusion of mild, damp air from Australia. Although this was clearly a meteorological event, Keith-Lucas dishonestly conflates it with global warming.
She says ‘scientists agree’ that global warming is making Antarctic heatwaves more common and severe. As we know, there are plenty of junk climate scientists who will say things like this for media attention, but the data says otherwise. For instance, at the Amundsen-Scott Base at the South Pole, there is no evidence of daily temperatures going through the roof. Indeed the warmest day was in 1984, if you can describe minus 13.9C as ‘warm’.
Despite that atmospheric river, temperatures this March for the month as a whole at the South Pole were below average, and the lowest since 2014.
Naturally, Keith-Lucas conjures up visions of melting ice caps and sea level rise. What she does not tell viewers is that the Antarctic icecap has actually been growing since we began to measure it, and sea ice is also on an increasing trend.
Once again, the BBC Climate Check has little do with ‘facts’: it is merely propaganda.
Let them eat cake
Northern Ireland has only just enacted its legally binding Net Zero targets. Nobody in Stormont seems to have realised that farming accounts for more than a quarter of the province’s greenhouse emissions. However, an industry-commissioned study has concluded that they will need to ‘lose’ 500,000 cattle and 700,000 sheep if they are to meet their targets. Pigs and chickens won’t escape either. Animals burp and poo a lot!
Not only does agriculture account for a large slice of NI’s emissions (and Ireland’s too), it also accounts for a lot of its GDP, directly and indirectly.
There is a good reason why Ireland is dominated by pastoral rather than arable farming. It is because most of the land is unsuitable for growing crops profitably. Much of it is rocky and the climate is far too wet. That was why Ireland was so reliant on potatoes at the time of the Great Famine, and why such reliance was suicidal.
Currently only 4 per cent of N Ireland’s farmland is arable.
Although farm labour only accounts for 7 per cent of the country’s labour force, many more depend on the rural economy. Altogether the rural population makes up about 40 per cent of the total.
Destroying a large part of the farming sector would be catastrophic for the rural economy. Replacing the meat and dairy sector with, for instance, potatoes would devastate incomes and lead to mass migration out of the countryside.
At a time when the world needs all the food it can get, it seems utterly perverse to be cutting back on agricultural production. The Republic of Ireland is faced with the same dilemma, and here we are busy using up valuable farmland to build solar farms, planting trees and rewilding vast areas, all to satisfy the green lobby. Still, at least the vegans will be happy!