Reality Checkpoint 2017
News from previous year

In the US, environmentalists are watching the destruction of ancient woodlands, to supply the increasing demand for wood pellets by European biomass plants in order to meet low-carbon targets. The enormous additional demand for biomass caused by the bioenergy industry now threatens to destroy ecosystems which cannot be replaced.

Across the EU as a whole, biomass & renewable waste accounted for about 5% of total electricity generation in 2014, a similar proportion to the UK.

    Based on EU accounting rules, which classify burning wood as zero-carbon, Drax’s biomass plant makes carbon savings of 80% compared with coal. Drax’s own figures show that CO2 emissions from biomass are actually 12% greater than coal for each unit of electricity generated.(......thanks to Paul H for the info. - Ed.)

11 Feb 2017

The BBC is under investigation after receiving a large number of complaints that its editorial coverage of climate change is biased in favour of those who say it is a man-made phenomenon.

Concerns are growing that BBC journalists and their bosses regard disputed scientific theory that climate change is caused by mankind as “mainstream” while huge sums of employees’ money is invested in companies whose success depends on the theory being widely accepted.

The fund, which has 58,744 members, accounts for about £8 of the £142.50 licence fee.

Veteran journalist and former BBC newsreader Peter Sissons is unhappy with the corporation’s coverage. He said recently: “The corporation’s most famous interrogators invariably begin by accepting that ‘the science is settled’ when there are countless reputable scientists and climatologists producing work that says it isn’t. It is, in effect, BBC policy, enthusiastically carried out by the BBC’s environment correspondents, that those views should not be heard. I was not proud to be working for an organisation with a corporate mind so closed on such an important issue.”

Last month the BBC Trust announced an investigation after a string of complaints that the corporation was promoting the theory that climate change was man-made.

11 Feb 2017

Here is a diagram showing the proportion of electricity generated in the UK by the different types of power station during Jan 2017. (Source: notalotofpeopleknowthat.com)

electricity generation picture, UK, jan 2017

Summarised from a report by Joe Kelly in Canberra.

The South Australian government says it will take the control of the state’s power supply, after a power cut to 40,000 homes. The Australian Energy Market Operator ordered power to be cut because of lack of available generation supply. Power was resumed 45 mins later.

The government has since blamed everyone except itself for the state’s unreliable power supply. There have been three major blackouts since the entire state lost power during storms on 28 Sept.

Opposition leader Steven Marshall described the government’s energy policy as chaotic, after allowing the Northern Power Station to close last May, which was the state’s last coal-fired station providing baseload power.

PM Malcolm Turnbull said "The idea you can power a state or a nation solely from renewables is fanciful. You need to have backups.”

Federal Energy Minister Josh Frydenberg said that the high level of renewables in SA had invited grid instability.

11 Feb 2017

We all depend on our media environment to give us a roughly accurate view of the world around us. Tim Cook, the head of Apple, has said that fake news is killing people's minds. I prefer to call fake news by its proper name - lies. And when it comes to lying or distortion, the mainstream media are not exempt from criticism.

The BBC has been peddling fiction on certain topics for years. For example - in 2006 it said the arctic would be ice free by 2013. As for its 'despite Brexit' coverage, that's an ongoing joke.

The day the media become truly independent of any political party will be the day people start believing them.

Media credibility is now lower than it has ever been. Look at the ongoing attacks on Brexit voters, Trump supporters, climate sceptics, diesel car owners and others.

Orwell warned us against letting the government decide what was true and what was fake.

It is not surprising that people are now looking for alternative sources of news which they trust.

11 Feb 2017

Since his inauguration, Mr. Trump has described environmentalism as being out of control, suspended EPA grants, and removed all mention of man-made climate change from the White House website. A more balanced discussion of climate change is likely to result, and not just in the USA.

24 Jan 2017

UK green energy subsidies which currently cost each household £110 per year are to be reduced. Ministers have said they wish to minimise the cost of projects to families and businesses and instead rely on competitive markets to deliver green energy.

The Government recently admitted that it will be spending £9 billion (about £370 per household) on green energy levies by 2020-21.

20 Jan 2017

    .....I would dispute that figure of £110. It's probably a lot larger, and it depends on how you do the sums...... -Ed.

Response from Donald Trump, on being asked for press passes by CNN.

"Dear CNN

We're hosting the Deploraball at the Press Club because we support quality journalism. We sincerely want to rebuild trust with the media. Unfortunately, we feel your coverage during the election was biased to the point of being irresponsible. We question your integrity as an institution of journalism. Therefore, we will not be issuing you press passes.

Please note this is not a partisan issue. We have issued passes to journalists from the New Yorker, New York Magazine, FOX, and others. We simply want to be covered fairly and have no confidence that you would do so."

CNN has been repeating AGW and '97%-consensus' propaganda for many years. Perhaps it now has an incentive to present a more truthful picture of important issues - Ed.

20 Jan 2017

A new carbon-capture facility was declared operational on Tuesday by NRG Energy and JX Nippon Oil & Gas Exploration Corp.

Their Petra Nova project, not far outside of Houston, captured carbon dioxide from coal combustion for the first time in September, and has now piped 100,000 tons of it from the plant to the West Ranch oil field 80 miles away, where the carbon dioxide is used to force additional oil from the ground. The companies say that the plant can capture 90 percent of the carbon dioxide released from a 240MW plant, which produces about 5,000 tons of carbon dioxide per day; around a million tons per year. They say it is the world’s largest post-combustion carbon capture system.

There is another coal plant nearly ready in the USA that will also capture carbon dioxide, expected to be operational on 31 Jan. It has been designed to turn lignite into gaseous fuel (syngas) by heating it; much of the carbon remains in the residue so is not released as CO2. The syngas is burned for electricity.

Thus, at Petra Nova the capturing of carbon occurs after the coal has been burned — or “post-combustion” — whereas at the second plant, Kemper, it happens beforehand.

The arrival of Petra Nova and Kemper comes as the incoming Trump administration will have to try to deliver on promises made to the hamstrung coal industry, which has been the victim of government-backed anti-CO2 propaganda from the EPA. It remains unclear whether Trump will support carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology, but he did allude to “clean coal” while campaigning.

It must be said that the Petra Nova plant is a tiddler. A 240MW plant is small by today's standards, and whether or not the technology has a long-term future in the power generation sector is uncertain. CCS plants have a habit of going enormously over-budget. The reasons for this are described here in my article Carbon Capture .

According to the Global CCS Institute, which tracks the CCS industry, there are 21 carbon capture projects operating or built worldwide, but none are on a scale likely to be useful in the power generation sector. Those interested can try googling "carbon capture norway".

17 Jan 2017

Short summary of part of a report by C. Krauss, 13 Jan 2017, NYT.

Exxon Mobil and Hess have announced the successful drilling of a deepwater exploration well off the coast of Guyana. It is believed that one of Guyana's offshore fields may contain around 1.4 billion barrels of oil mixed with natural gas, which is comparable to some of the larger fields drilled in South America.

Guyana has a low population so would be able to export most of it.

Early estimates of recoverable oil around Guyana are around four billion barrels, which at today’s prices would be worth about $200 billion. The country currently produces very little energy; it badly needs pipelines and infrastructure if the oil is to be extracted.

Brazil and Colombia are already major producers. Argentina is also becoming a big producer; Chevron and some other oil companies have said they will invest $5 billion this year in the Dead Cow shale field, Patagonia.

Exxon Mobil has not yet said what it will invest, but estimates of the amount are around $500 million. The company has drilled five exploration wells off Guyana so far, one of which was dry.

16 Jan 2017

A group of MPs, The British Infrastructure group, has said that lights may go out next winter and power rationed because of mismanagement of the energy supply. There is not enough spare capacity to cope with periods of high electricity demand.

This is not news. For the last fifteen years, scientists and engineers have told the MPs responsible for energy that they had to plan for the future. Unfortunately they chose not to listen.

Instead, the Department of Energy and Climate Change took advice from environmental activists and others with no idea of how the electricity supply works. They signed up to the EU's Climate Change Act - the most expensive (£300 billion) and foolish Act ever to be passed by Parliament. They concentrated on meeting carbon targets instead of ensuring a secure energy supply. They supplied schools and others with anti-carbon propaganda based on man-made global warming, for which there is no evidence; none; not any of any kind. They closed down perfectly good coal-fired power stations years before they were worn out.

They replaced them with wind farms and solar panels which are intermittent and unreliable and, frankly, not worth connecting to the Grid.

This is a national disaster which every competent chemist, physicist and engineer in the country had predicted.

Now it seems we will have power cuts and rationing and even higher bills. What a surprise.

    An engineer friend, JC, adds......
    Easy to forecast if you have any engineering sense, even if one is not directly involved in the energy sector. I have just been looking at Gridwatch and it shows demand as 46.36 GW, outputs as Coal @ 8,85 GW, Nuclear @ 8.28 GW, CCGT @ 24.9 GW and wind as a miserable 1.01 GW. This is not a particularly cold day but even so the bulk of our electrical power is running at almost red line conditions.

    This means that a relatively small increase in demand may well overwhelm our generators unless we can import more from overseas or we can switch on enough STOR capacity, which will be very expensive and will produce more emissions than the coal stations which the idiots shut down. The supplies from France are in trouble because half of their capacity is denied to us due to a cable fault.

    Note from ND - STOR capacity means small diesel generators of around 2MW each; Short Term Operating Reserve. Price paid for the energy is around 50P per unit (£500 per MWh). For detailed information on this, see article by Richard North at http://www.eureferendum.com/blogview.aspx?blogno=84095

19 Dec 2016

      Update - Another engineer friend, RE, writes....
      Yesterday evening, 20 Dec, on the grid, a demand of over 47 GW had CCGT gas on full capacity, all available coal units running on full load and even the oil OCGTs had to be dispatched to meet the evening peak. Wind was contributing about 2 GW and solar PV nothing because it was dark.

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