Funny this really

National Grid reported that, on Wednesday lunchtime, power from wind, solar, hydro and wood pellet burning supplied 50.7% of UK energy.
Add in nuclear, and by 2pm low carbon sources were producing 72.1% of electricity in the UK.

Wood pellets aren’t low carbon of course.

52 comments on “Funny this really

  1. And how much of that was from wind and solar? Nuclear and hydro (and wood pellets) are hardly ‘green’.

  2. And it didn’t do anything of the sort, even so.

    It might have supplied half the electricity. Not half the energy.

  3. The claim is that Drax uses waste wood from sustainable commercial forestry. If that’s true, the net effect is low carbon.

  4. Even the EU itself doesn’t believe shipping such across the Atlantic saves CO2 emissions. Not any more at least.

  5. Exactly, Tim. But then they pretend that construction of solar and wind facilities don’t have CO2 consequences, and call those low “carbon” too.

    It’s all a scam.

  6. The claim is that Drax uses waste wood from sustainable commercial forestry. If that’s true, the net effect is low carbon.

    Even if it were true that Drax runs on “waste wood” – and it’s not – that wouldn’t mean that burning wood doesn’t release CO2 into the atmosphere.

  7. The theory is that the replacement trees turn carbon dioxide into wood, so that a low-carbon cycle is possible.

    Whether that’s achieved in practice depends on the detail.

  8. The figure for solar is an estimate based on a computer model, as it is not centrally metered, as far as I can tell. It is based on or similar to Sheffield Solar’s figures.

    JerryC said: “Even if it were true that Drax runs on “waste wood” – and it’s not – that wouldn’t mean that burning wood doesn’t release CO2 into the atmosphere.”

    True in reality but not when it comes to EU carbon budgeting. Emissions from wood burning are ignored.

  9. “…that wouldn’t mean that burning wood doesn’t release CO2 into the atmosphere.”

    The idea is that the carbon in the CO2 released from burning wood comes from the contemporary atmosphere, and thus the process is nearly carbon neutral.

    However, the carbon in the fossil-fuel burned CO2 used in the transports…

  10. “Drax uses waste wood from sustainable commercial forestry”

    The irony is that tens of thousands of tonnes of perfectly good waste wood every year are turned away by the biomass power stations, because arboricultural waste (ie the stuff that tree surgeons take away when they cut that big tree down outside your house) as it is not from a ‘sustainable’ source. Only timber from a forest that is certified as ‘sustainable’ can be used, or rather only burning such timber gets the subsidy for burning biomass, so the power stations won’t touch arbor waste. Despite the reality being there are plenty of trees throughout suburbia, more are planted every year, they grow constantly, and there is a an endless supply of it. So its composted or land filled, where it gives off just the same CO2 as it would if it had been burned. And the forests of the Eastern USA are felled, chipped and shipped all across the Atlantic instead.

    Joined up thinking at work.

  11. Jim, joined-up thinking doesn’t enter the equation. The only important thing is who’s pockets are being lined.

  12. “So its composted or land filled”: not hereabouts. Much of it seems to be burnt in garden fires.

  13. ” of UK energy”

    of UK electricity, you mean.

    And yes, Wednesday lunchtime on a warm day isn’t a problem. How you going to do at the ad break in Corrie in the middle of winter?

  14. Bloke in Wiltshire said: “And yes, Wednesday lunchtime on a warm day isn’t a problem. How you going to do at the ad break in Corrie in the middle of winter?”

    Smart meter says no.

  15. Only the mentally blind can give a thumbs up to the new Drax.

    It is not wastewood, there wouldn’t be enough. Cutting it down, shipping it to treatment, shipping it to port, shipping it to the UK, carting it to Drax, for a low energy density CO2 spewing electricity generating source is the work of a genius.

  16. The idea is that the carbon in the CO2 released from burning wood comes from the contemporary atmosphere, and thus the process is nearly carbon neutral.

    I don’t understand this. You mean to tell me that if I go out and cut down one of the big maple trees in my yard and burn it in my fireplace, that’s carbon-neutral because it “comes from the contemporary atmosphere”? That makes zero sense to me.

  17. Bloke in Wiltshire

    “And yes, Wednesday lunchtime on a warm day isn’t a problem. How you going to do at the ad break in Corrie in the middle of winter?”

    Demand management….you should have had that cuppa in summer.

  18. > How you going to do at the ad break in Corrie in the middle of winter?

    Exercise bike powering the kettle. Spend the first 10 minutes of the show cycling at a good clip (200 watts), and you’ll have enough energy to boil one 250ml cup of water.

    Obesity crisis solved too.

  19. ‘Renewables provide more than half UK electricity for first time’

    And? What’s your point?

    ‘Renewable sources of energy have generated more electricity than coal and gas in the UK for the first time.’

    Fixed cost for coal and gas continued to accumulate . . . you were still paying for it even though you weren’t using it.

    ‘Wednesday lunchtime was perfect for renewables – sunny and windy at the same time.’

    So, renewables were able to produce half when conditions were ‘perfect’ . . . how often do you expect conditions to be perfect? Note one critical condition: daytime. Two-thirds of the time conditions cannot be perfect.

    ‘offshore wind farms – a newcomer on the energy scene whose costs have plummeted far faster than expected.’

    A meaningless assertion, said for propaganda value.

    ‘So much power was being generated by wind turbines, in fact, that prices fell to a tenth of their normal level.’

    Hard to pay off an investment when prices fall 90%.

    ‘At the time of Wednesday’s record, 1% of demand was met by storage; this will have to increase hugely as the UK moves towards a low-carbon electricity system.’

    Not really. Storage cannot fix intermittency. Nothing can. But not to worry, this fad will be over in 10 years, and we can then work on the Left’s next Global Problem.

  20. “You mean to tell me that if I go out and cut down one of the big maple trees in my yard and burn it in my fireplace, that’s carbon-neutral because it “comes from the contemporary atmosphere”? That makes zero sense to me.”

    If you burn fossil fuels, you add carbon dioxide to the contemporary atmosphere that has been locked in the ground for millions of years; i.e. extra CO2.

    If you burn wood from trees, you put carbon dioxide into the contemporary atmosphere that already came out of the contemporary atmosphere to make the free; i.e. “recycled” CO2.

    In climate terms, the twenty or thirty years for a fuel tree is contemporary.

  21. Yes, fossil fuels are just millions of years of storage of millions of years of intermittency.

  22. “Social Justice Warrior
    June 9, 2017 at 11:59 am

    The claim is that Drax uses waste wood from sustainable commercial forestry. If that’s true, the net effect is low carbon.”

    How is it any lower carbon than coal? The carbon in coal comes from the same place as the carbon in the wood pellets, just from a different time period. So both have removed CO2 from the atmosphere and burning both return the same CO2 back.

  23. Don’t be ridiculous, Matthew. You would need infinite storage, and infinite additional generation to charge it up.

  24. “The carbon in coal comes from the same place as the carbon in the wood pellets, just from a different time period. So both have removed CO2 from the atmosphere and burning both return the same CO2 back.”

    100 million year old coal doesn’t return the CO2 from the 100 million year old atmosphere to the 100 million year old atmosphere, it dumps it today’s atmosphere. That’s the supposed problem with it.

  25. Blame modern architecture- If the twigs doomed to be pelletized and burnt went instead into Tudor daub and wattle, it’d be Carbon Negative

    Cue donation pleas by Timmy for the Greensleeves Party

  26. Not infinite store and generation, only more than most people expect. Basically we need three times the rated capacity of wind/solar to generate the energy we need. Then we need to double that twice to allow for long-distance transmission, storage, and using electricity to create thermal energy sources. As the world currently uses around 18 PW this means we’ll need to install around 200 PW of generation capacity, plus the associated bits and bobs.

    Large, yes. Infinite, no. Is it worth doing, who can say until we do it. The excess generation capacity necessary for when we need it means we will have a lot of excess energy on the good days.

  27. Large, yes. Infinite, no. Is it worth doing, who can say until we do it.

    I can say now, it isn’t worth doing.

    So, you are going to depend on wind/solar. How many days can it be out? 10? 20? You don’t know. But you have to build for hundreds of days out, if that’s all you have. Or you tell your customers, “Tough shit.” Cost becomes prohibitive even before 10 days.

    Your customers, if they are affluent enough, will buy their own generation facility, knowing depending on central generation is a thing of the past. Killed by idiots.

  28. Gamecock,

    With the technology available today I agree with you. Notice I even went to the trouble of laying out just how much more generation capacity we need.

    At the same time there are things that we can do that take advantage of excess intermittent electricity. If the returns from these exceed the costs of installing enough capacity for base load then it’s a net win. The problem is we have no way to guess at what the returns will be and the costs of going 100% RE are in the trillions.

  29. “100 million year old coal doesn’t return the CO2 from the 100 million year old atmosphere to the 100 million year old atmosphere, it dumps it today’s atmosphere. That’s the supposed problem with it.”

    What IS the problem with it? 100m years ago (or when ever the coal/oil was still living organisms) the CO2 was in the atmosphere. Said animals and plants were obviously doing pretty well, there were enough of them to make all that fossil fuel. The earth hadn’t been baked to crisp or spun off into some climatological death spiral, a la Venus. It was fine.

    So why is going sticking some of that CO2 back into the atmosphere (not all of it, we haven’t touched a lot of the fossil fuels yet) going to result in a death spiral this time?

  30. Wood pellets contain carbon recently harvested from the atmosphere, therefore count as zero carbon in terms of the current “too much CO2 in atmosphere” problem.

    Surely you knew that, Tim.

  31. “Wood pellets contain carbon recently harvested from the atmosphere, therefore count as zero carbon in terms of the current “too much CO2 in atmosphere” problem.”

    They were locked up in the trees, and are now free. I.e., there is more CO2 in the atmosphere than before. Surely you know that, Dave.

  32. Gamecock, seriously?

    CO2 taken out of atmosphere to make trees.

    Burn trees, CO2 returns to atmosphere.

    Atmospheric CO2 change = 0

    This isn’t even a warmist v sceptic thing.

  33. What IS the problem with it?

    The problem is not with the steady state but with the transition. If we change the climate by a lot, everything will be in the wrong place. Image a world with a completely different pattern of rainfall, the temperate zone much nearer the poles, and a markedly higher sea level. What’s the cost of rebuilding everything? How long would we have to wait for nature to sort out the biotas?

  34. “The CO2 was already locked up in trees.”

    The context of the discussion is farming trees as a CO2 neutral fuel source (see original post). This isn’t about chopping down the Amazon.

  35. “What IS the problem with it?”

    Jim, your question was probably rhetorical but anyways…

    With the CO2 in and of itself, not much. The largest “greenhouse” effect from CO2 comes at low levels. The scale is logarithmic, and once you get beyond the levels we have now there is only a little extra warming.

    The problem the warmists claim comes from secondary forcings. They suggest the Earth’s climate is a positive feedback system, wherein the small warming from CO2 creates more water vapour (by far the biggest “greenhouse” gas) and thus more heat and thus more water vapour, etc, etc. Also methane from melting tundra and ocean clathrates.

    This “forcing” argument is where all the action is in the climate wars.

  36. “The problem the warmists claim comes from secondary forcings. They suggest the Earth’s climate is a positive feedback system, wherein the small warming from CO2 creates more water vapour (by far the biggest “greenhouse” gas) and thus more heat and thus more water vapour, etc, etc. Also methane from melting tundra and ocean clathrates.”

    If that was the case why didn’t the earth enter a runaway greenhouse effect at some point in its past when all the CO2 comprising the fossil fuel we are currently burning was in the atmosphere? CO2 levels have been many times what they are today, possibly by a factor of 10. Its posited that the reason the pterodactyl could fly was because the atmosphere was so thick with CO2 it was much denser, thus could sustain flight by heavier animals. We know the world has been much warmer than today, (tropical swamps being in places that today are temperate) yet survived all that without a death spiral. Whats different about a small amount of warming today?

    Basically if the earth did have a positive feedback warming loop, at some point in the last 5bn years it would have been triggered, and the earth would be a boiling desert like Venus. It hasn’t so it can’t have a positive feedback loop.

    End of story.

  37. I would agree that the climate being a positive feedback system is unlikely. If I recall correctly, the climate temperature hasn’t varied by more than 12C in the entire billions of years since the Earth stabilised with oceans, despite large changes to inputs.

    The system does seem prone to sudden dramatic changes which then stabilise for long periods (compare 12000 years ago with 10000 -> today). This might indicate a negative feedback system.

    We can be reasonably sure that even if we aren’t changing the climate, it will change of its own accord and alter our environment in challenging ways. I’d prefer that we have a free and dynamic economic system in place when that happens and not some sort of semi-religious, centrally-planned, trans-national bureaucracy that regards our very existence as affront to nature.

  38. “The context of the discussion is farming trees as a CO2 neutral fuel source (see original post). This isn’t about chopping down the Amazon.”

    Chopping down western North Carolina trees.

    Wood pellets come only from existing trees.

    CO2 from burning trees is chemically similar to CO2 coming from burning coal – okay, being facetious, they are indistinguishable. The notion that CO2 from trees is okay because it will go back into trees is retarded. CO2 is CO2.
    CO2 from burning trees doesn’t get a special path to go back to trees. CO2 from burning coal going into trees makes coal good then.

  39. Gamecock

    LOL. You normally talk good sense.

    But seriously, you are going to grow forests (currently) at the same rate that wood *and* coal/gas is consumed (which you can do just with trees)? God luck..;)

  40. Take barren ground and grow trees. Burn the trees. Plant new trees.

    Carbon neutral, for whatever the hell it’s worth.

    Take existing trees, burn them, you remain behind the carbon eight ball even if you plant new trees which eventually absorb all the freed CO2.

    It only “works” to reduce atmospheric CO2 if you grow the trees FIRST.

  41. “It only “works” to reduce atmospheric CO2 if you grow the trees FIRST.”

    Or start growing them at the same time you are cutting them down. It’s not replacement tree after a fallen tree, it’s a process?

    Though, personally, I’d just go frack & nuke.

  42. “…you remain behind the carbon eight ball…
    It only “works” to reduce atmospheric CO2 if you grow the trees FIRST.”

    For whatever reason (mischief, I suspect), you’re stuck on a minor semantic point that misses the strategic purpose of this type of renewable. Growing and burning trees for energy only works to reduce atmospheric CO2 if you grow and burn trees instead of getting that energy from fossil fuels.

    Whatever order you grow and burn the trees is fucking irrelevant compared to not adding ancient “carbon” into the system.

    And as Tim points out above, if you have to use lots of fossil fuels to harvest and transport the tree fuel, the whole process becomes pointless.

  43. Burn a tree, you add CO2 to the atmosphere, not “carbon.” Stop getting your science from the Guardian.

    “Whatever order you grow and burn the trees is fucking irrelevant compared to not adding ancient “carbon” into the system.”

    There is NO FVCKING DIFFERENCE between ancient carbon and thirty year old carbon.

    ‘Cept apparently burning 30 year old carbon makes you feel better, little girl.

  44. “Burn a tree, you add CO2 to the atmosphere, not “carbon.” Stop getting your science from the Guardian.”

    That’s why I put it these “…”, you blind fuck. Plus putting it in the context of bringing up fossil fuels makes carbon the correct term. Which almost excuses you for using it immediately after chastising me.

    “There is NO FVCKING DIFFERENCE between ancient carbon and thirty year old carbon.”

    And now resorting to straw man argument. Loser.

  45. Basically if the earth did have a positive feedback warming loop, at some point in the last 5bn years it would have been triggered, and the earth would be a boiling desert like Venus. It hasn’t so it can’t have a positive feedback loop.

    I think you’ll find it’s a bit more complicated than that.

    The hypothesis is that the earth’s climate has various metastable equilibria. Compare it with a rectangular box sitting on a slope. If you tip it up far enough, it will turn onto a different side. That doesn’t mean it rolls down the slope.

  46. SJW given the age of the planet, there should surely be some cases of massive tipping points such as you describe.

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