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HomeClimate WatchThe climate scaremongers: Questions the Energy Secretary must answer

The climate scaremongers: Questions the Energy Secretary must answer


Open letter to Claire Coutinho, Secretary of State For Energy Security and Net Zero

MAY I start by asking if you are aware of the electricity mix during the windless spell last weekend? According to official data from the grid, shown below, in the 24 hours to 10am on February 25, wind power supplied only 2.5 per cent of total generation. This works out at an average of 0.7 GW, just 2 per cent of Britain’s wind capacity.

Solar power contributed only about 1.4 GW, 8 per cent of its capacity. This is not dependable, as it often drops to about a quarter of this figure on cloudy days in winter, as it did earlier that week.

It is also worth noting that we are still using coal, despite your promise at COP28 that it would have been phased out by now.

This sort of weather can last for several weeks at a time in winter.

As it is the government’s plan to totally decarbonise the grid by 2035, (and by 2030 for Labour), could you please explain how we will be able to run the grid without gas and coal then? Building yet more wind/solar farms won’t solve the problem – twice nothing is still nothing!

Battery storage, as I am sure you know, is of little help, because it can supply only enough for an hour or so. As for green hydrogen, not only would we need to spend tens of billions building electrolysers, seasonal storage, distribution and a fleet of CCGT (combined cycle gas turbine) power stations to burn it, there would simply not be enough wind and solar farms to provide the electricity needed in the first place. It is not conceivable that any of this could be in place by 2035, nor any new nuclear after Hinkley.

Switching demand from peak to off-peak will also be of no help, because we will be desperately short of power at all times of day, and for weeks on end.

Carbon capture (CCS) is often quoted as a solution, even though there is no evidence that it works at scale. But, more pertinently, CCS cannot be fitted to nearly all of our CCGT fleet as it is far too old. That would mean we would need to build a whole new fleet of CCS-ready gas power stations, all at colossal expense. It would, of course, increase our dependence on fossil fuels, not reduce it, as CCS is a very fuel-inefficient process. And we would need to begin that construction now, though there are no plans currently.

The problem is actually worse than I have laid out, because electricity demand is projected to be much higher in 2035 with EVs and heat pumps.

We are already far too dangerously reliant on imported electricity, which provided a quarter of our power in the above 24-hour period. When there are low winds here, the same usually occurs in the rest of NW Europe. On the same day that our wind output dropped away last week, Germany’s fell to less than half its usual level.

When the EU countries have also closed their coal and gas plants, they will also be desperately short of electricity during windless days. What guarantees do we have that we will be able to import it then?

The first half of your job title is ‘Energy Security’. I suggest you focus more on that, and less on the other half, Net Zero.

Breaking news – we’re still here!

BRITAIN plunged into a Siberian climate, cities sunk beneath the waves, nuclear war, mega-droughts and widespread famine. The usual climate scares, I hear you say!

Except that these are all supposed to have happened already, according to climate scientists. It was exactly 20 years ago that the Guardian wrote about a secret report from the Pentagon.

‘Climate change over the next 20 years could result in a global catastrophe costing millions of lives in wars and natural disasters.

‘A secret report, suppressed by US defence chiefs and obtained by the Observer, warns that major European cities will be sunk beneath rising seas as Britain is plunged into a ‘Siberian’ climate by 2020. Nuclear conflict, mega-droughts, famine and widespread rioting will erupt across the world.

‘The document predicts that abrupt climate change could bring the planet to the edge of anarchy as countries develop a nuclear threat to defend and secure dwindling food, water and energy supplies. The threat to global stability vastly eclipses that of terrorism, say the few experts privy to its contents. “Disruption and conflict will be endemic features of life,” concludes the Pentagon analysis. “Once again, warfare would define human life”.’

Naturally a queue of climate scientists attacked President George W Bush for throwing the report in the bin, including the late John Houghton (Met Office), Bob Watson (IPCC), David King (Tony Blair’s chief scientific adviser) and John Schellnhuber (Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research). Bush clearly had more common sense in his little finger than the rest of them put together. All, apart from Houghton, are still highly influential in the climate establishment.

Of course, silly scare stories like this were commonplace. In 1989, the UN told us entire countries would be wiped off the face of the Earth, while Australia’s leading climate expert Tim Flannery was sure that the country would by now be in a state of permanent drought.

Meanwhile the aforementioned David King told Parliament in 2004 that Antarctica would soon be the most habitable place on Earth. In 2008 the UN warned of 200million environmental refugees. And then there was the US biologist Paul Ehrlich, who forecast in 1972 that everybody would dis­appear in a cloud of blue smoke within 20 years.

We can laugh at them all now. But the same potty predictions are still being made now by so-called climate experts. So why do people still believe them?

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Paul Homewood
Paul Homewood
Paul Homewood is a former accountant who blogs about climate change at Not a Lot of People Know That

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