By Paul Homewood
A carefully co-ordinated story has been doing the media rounds today. The Mail, for instance, has almost exactly the same wording as the BBC:
The UK has achieved its greenest year ever in terms of how the nation’s electricity is generated, National Grid figures reveal.
The rise of renewable energy helped break 13 clean energy records in 2017.
In June, for the first time, wind, nuclear and solar power generated more UK power than gas and coal combined.
Britain has halved carbon emissions in the electricity sector since 2012 to provide the fourth cleanest power system in Europe and seventh worldwide.
In April, the UK had its first 24-hour period without using any coal power since the Industrial Revolution.
The government is committed to phasing out unabated coal by 2025 as part of efforts to cut the UK’s greenhouse gas emissions in line with legal obligations.
Separate findings from power research group MyGridGB show that renewable energy sources provided more power than coal for 90% of 2017, figures up to 12 December show.
British wind farms produced more electricity than coal plants on more than 75% of days this year.
This changing landscape saw the cost of offshore wind power fall below the price of nuclear for the first time.
But despite the successes, groups warned the UK must now tackle its reliance on gas if it is to meet its emission targets.
The daily output of gas was outstripped by wind on just two days of the year.
Image caption The UK must reduce its gas use to reach its emission targets
Renewables overall – including wind, solar, biomass and hydropower – beat fossil fuels for only 23 days of the year.
Dr Andrew Crossland from MyGridGB and the Durham Energy Institute said: “The government has focused on reducing coal use which now supplies less than 7% of our electricity.
“However, if we continue to use gas at the rate that we do, then Britain will miss carbon targets and be dangerously exposed to supply and price risks in the international gas markets.”
He added that “refreshed government support for low carbon alternatives” is now needed to “avoid price and supply shocks for our heat and electricity supplies”.
Emma Pinchbeck, executive director of Industry body RenewableUK, called for “more boldness” from the government.
She urged onshore wind to be developed across the UK in an “ambitious sector deal with the off shore wind industry” that could help secure a “golden age for renewables” in 2018.
An Energy Department spokesman said the UK was reducing emissions faster than any other G7 country – which includes the US, Japan, Germany, Italy, France and Canada.
He said the government plans to reduce carbon emissions throughout the 2020s, while supporting the creation of well-paid jobs in the low carbon sector.
“The UK is a world leader in clean growth,” he said.
The National Grid do not appear to have actually published any data for the full year yet (hardly surprising, as there are still three days to go).
Most of the information appears to come from the MyGridGB website, which a quick looks reveals to be an ardent campaigner for renewables. We can therefore expect much cherry picking, omission of inconvenient data and spin.
It is run by Dr Andrew Crossland, and shows this graph for the last 12 months, ending 30th Nov 2017.
There is an immediate problem here, because his figures simply don’t agree with official BEIS data.
He gives this monthly analysis for instance:
But if we take his figures for nuclear in Q1, for example, he gets 16.4 TWh, yet the official DUKES figures from BEIS say 17.64 TWh. Other categories are also wildly out, like gas at 33.3 Twh compared to the BEIS figure of 36.82 TWh.
There may be genuine reasons for these discrepancies, but it seems to be wildly irresponsible of the media to be regurgitating claims from Crossland’s website without any checks as to their accuracy.
As for the “greenest year” claims, we can use the official data from October 2016 to Sep 2017 as a proxy. (DUKES data for Q4 won’t be available until next March, but there will be little difference between this period and 2017 as a full year).
The headline figure for “low carbon” would be 50%, but whether this could be labelled “green” is another matter entirely.
1) For a start, it includes 21% from nuclear, which has been around for decades.
Green activists have been campaigning against nuclear power for years, so it seems hypocritical in the extreme to now claim that it is saving the planet.
2) Another 9% comes from biomass, which certainly is neither clean nor green, and arguably is not even low carbon.
3) Quite disgracefully, our neglect of our own generators has led to imports increasing from 1.7% in 2011 to 4.2% now.
As for wind and solar, they are still only generating 15% of our electricity, despite the billions of subsidies handed out to them each year.
Meanwhile rent-a-quote Emma Pinchbeck wants an ambitious sector deal with the off shore wind industry, (translation – yet more subsidies).
Quite ludicrously, Dr Crossland now demands that we do away with natural gas as well, despite the fact that he admits renewables overall – including wind, solar, biomass and hydropower – beat fossil fuels for only 23 days of the year.
Yet his own graphs show the utter folly of this.
During winter months, when demand is greatest, solar is an irrelevance, and wind power unreliable at best.
Why do the media continually fall for this propaganda?
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December 29, 2017 at 07:27AM