Letter to UK Minister of State (Minister for Business, Energy and Clean Growth)

Dear Mr Kwarteng,

As one of your constituents I wrote to you in June 2019 requesting an analysis of how on earth we could become a carbon free society by 2050 or whenever in the face of the monumental impossibility of building enough wind turbines to accomplish the task. I have to say that I was not at all impressed by the quality of your reply in setting out a clear and achievable route map.

I should tell you that although I am now semiretired I spent a career in the oil Industry as a Geoscientist – Geology and Geophysics, finishing up as the international manager and, co-founder and  co-owner of a small oil company that achieved the modest success of producing gas and oil from Turkey at a rate of 1000 Barrels per day of oil equivalent and employinhg a staff of 40. I am therefore well versed in energy provenance and economics.

As a natural scientist I remain to be convinced that the observed modest recent rise in global average temperature is either unprecedented, dangerous or even human caused, and despite my analytical research have yet to see any observational evidence that would persuade me otherwise.

This is not a fashionable view,   You may beg to differ and we might have a civilised discussion on the matter. However that is not what I want to discuss today. I am no great protagonist of a fossil fuelled future and would welcome an alternative that could deliver the benefits of our bounteous fossil fuels.

What does seriously concern me is that our present decarbonisation attempts through the medium of unreliable renewables does not have any chance of replacing our present energy budget and must inevitably lead to the total economic ruin of our nation

I note that you are now Minister of State (Minister for Business, Energy and Clean Growth)

And in that capacity, I must bring to your attention the following.

I have worked out fairly completely the complete current energy budget of the UK on a spreadsheet and produced answers as to how we can get to carbon free by 2050. This spreadsheet can be found at the following drop box address.

https://www.dropbox.com/scl/fi/fv5qjhnjk3z2865yjz9ng/2021_01_06_AG_UK-energy.xlsx?dl=0&rlkey=bklgq9of6et8b2nuj3gqwdn6e

I urge you to download this and disseminate it to your civil servants.

I have also made some appendix tables extracted from this spreadsheet that summarise some of my conclusions.

The following are facts distilled from that spreadsheet

  1. In the UK we consume annually 1295TWhr (Terawatt Hours) of effective energy (Total input energy of each type times efficiency factor). This is the total energy budget over all sectors of our society.  Of this 

158 TWhr (12%) come from renewables like Nuclear, Wind,  Solar,  Biomass and Hydro. The remainder 1137 TW hr (88%) comes from Fossil fuels

78 TWHr of the renewable total currently come from Wind and Solar (about 6% of our total energy requirement

  • Assume that  we  replace all of our fossil fuel with wind power We need to build at least 32,000, 10 MW nameplate leviathan wind turbines, assumed to be offshore , to be commissioned  to achieve “Net carbon free”,  without even considering what happens when the wind does not blow.
  •  Assuming we wish to get there by 2050 we must commission 3 leviathans per day starting today. This takes no account of the fact that the lifetime of these units is 20 years and from 2040 to 2050 we would need to double up to 6 units per day.

There are plans afoot to establish 4.5 GW of offshore wind farm by 2025. This equates to a total of 500 units and an installation rate of only 0.27 per day. This is about 10% of the required deployment rate so we are off to a roaring start!

Moreover the annual energy supplied by these turbines in planning or construction equates to about 7% of our current oil fired energy

  • We need 150TWhrs to supply all our cars with electricity This is about 12% of our total energy budget, it is also about 100% of all renewable energy currently being produced  by Wind solar nuclear biomass and hydro.
  • Assuming all of the vehicle charging was done in one of our 8000 odd current service stations we would need 115,000 chargers working 24/7 to do this. So each station needs 14 charging units working at a total power requirement per service station 6 MW or about 1.5 dedicated Turbines per charging station. Assuming 50% of charging was done at home  we could halve this figure  but would have to spend hundreds of billions beefing up the grid to supply
  • When I tank up my car with diesel the energy flow is equivalent to the exclusive output of 4 wind turbines for 2.5 minutes. I suppose that this means that Diesel is a pretty inefficient way to power a car. Electric motors are grantedly more efficient but the difficulty is getting the electricity from the wind turbine into the battery.
  • Electric bikes are great and it would require the output of only 2000 wind turbines to keep all of the motorists in the UK moving 24/7 on electric bikes. That equates to 200 wind turbines to enable us all to cycle 2 hours per day. This is doable.

It is glaringly obvious that it is completely impossible to keep 40 million cars on the road in the UK powered by renewable electricity leaving out for the moment the infeasibility of supplying enough Lithium, Cobalt  and rare earth elements to accomplish the task. Therefore it is not going to happen. 

I suppose one should address the question “when you go about your daily business is it really necessary to haul a ton of metal on wheels along with you?” Most of our daily business could probably be done if we swapped ownership of cars for ownership of bikes. However if this is the game plan from our political masters then we, the masses, should at least be told this. One feels also that the gilded elite would still like their Teslas, tax free of course because they’re green don’t y’know and the carless masses would still pay for the upkeep of the roads.

I look forward to a detailed reply to these issues and am confident that with your new army of dedicated civil servants this will be rapidly forthcoming.

I also expect one of these Civil Servants will point out any shortcomings or logical flaws in my spreadsheet – that is if you can divert at least one of them from the no doubt more absorbing task of counting Carrie’s flatulent unicorns, and would welcome such interaction.

I wou;ld also be thrilled to present my findins to a Conservative Party constituency meeting if you would like to convene one – Hopefully a real one and not a Zoom affair.

In the face of a Corbyn threat I did actually vote for you in December 2019. This is a vote that I deeply regret now because Boris and Carrie are well on the road to out – Corbyning Corbyn in every piece of woke governmental nonsense that Jeremy proposed.

I note now that your party have let  your northern voters by stymieing the opening of coal mines in Northumberland and Cumberland opting instead to import the same amount of coal that these mines would have produced. Futile virtue signalling that actually increases global CO2 emissions, as the coal is now being imported- from our good friends in Russia . Mr Putin is reportedly thrilledbut he is such a nice man.

Likewise these voters will be thrown further  into unemployment with the inevitable run down of our energy intensive industries under your decarbonising schemes. Their jobs of course will be done elsewhere in a more CO2 intensive manner so not doing much for the planet.

Our government have a plan to replace methane in domestic gas appliances. Good heavens man doesn’t your government  have a whit of realisation that the only viable source of hydrogen is steam reforming methane – at 75% efficiency if you are lucky. You may be able to convince me that this is something other than moronic nonsense, but I doubt it.

Yours sincerely,

Alastair Gray

[Here is a second location for the spreadsheet~cr]

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January 7, 2021 at 04:18PM

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