Greenpeace lies

It is no coincidence that Germany and Spain, which have shut the door on new nuclear power, have invested most in renewables and seen their green industries rocket. Spain now generates as much as 40% of its electricity from wind power and studies show the investment in renewables has lowered wholesale electricity prices in Spain by more than the cost of the incentive they used to kickstart the industry.

John Sauven.

Where in fuck did that come from?

Here\’s the report on the Spanish experience.

It\’s full of lines about how the rise in electricity costs have killed off more jobs than have been created in building windmills. Difficult to see how a rise in costs is a fall really.

Do we just assume Sauven is lying?

15 thoughts on “Greenpeace lies”

  1. @Tim: haha, the ‘as much as 40%’ is a genius piece of misleading-with0ut-lying (they *once* achieved 40%, when the wind conditions were exactly right).

    @NM: for one, it’s usually windy enough nationwide that a reasonable proportion of capacity can be achieved; for two, that’s what backup gas capacity is for (and no, that’s not a massive waste, as obviously you only *use* the gas when wind production is low).

  2. 1. In what sense is it “the” report ? I see a fifty-odd page document by some Spanish economists at a university there – is it the only assessment available?

    2. I do promise to try reading it when I can, but in the meantime I have been trying to use one of Worstall’s patent nostrums: “jobs are a cost”. So surely that implies that these wind schemes are a very good thing because they create fewer jobs, leaving the Spanish free to sell each other cups of coffee?

    3. “In any case what do they do when its not windy ?” Just build Newman into the system as he demonstrably produces inexhaustible supplies 0f wind.

    With varying degrees of frivolity

    JSM

  3. JSM,

    “I have been trying to use one of Worstall’s patent nostrums: “jobs are a cost”. So surely that implies that these wind schemes are a very good thing because they create fewer jobs, leaving the Spanish free to sell each other cups of coffee?”

    I’m not going to attempt to explain why it makes sense to think of jobs as a cost, in many contexts*, but I can at least point out your error here: if wind power did free up people to sell cups of coffee, and they were doing so, then it wouldn’t have destroyed jobs on net would it? The point being made by the report is more like the cost of electricity went up, and put lots of people selling coffee out of business. “Jobs are a cost” does not equate to “destroying economic activity is a good thing”.

    * Tim, can you remember that thread where we had a long debate where I tried to argue that job creation can be seen as a benefit in the presence of unemployment? I can’t find it.

    Tim adds: No, not sure where it is, but it’s around. BTW, I don’t deny that the creation of jobs can be seen as a benefit at times. And in some ways. Just that the usual “But look, it will create teh jobs” argument is wrong.

  4. I am grateful to our fine footballing friend for dealing with my comment 2 with rather more respect than it deserved. Ditto for TW’s addendum.

    To be vaguely serious, it would be nice to have a permanent link to that fuller and more nuanced examination of the job creation cost/benefit question; perhaps it could be reused whenever appropriate (like Private Eye’s regular “ArkellvPressdram” reference) instead of the over-abstracted “jobs is a cost” line?

  5. JSM

    I don’t know of a fuller and more nuanced examination – I can’t find that earlier thread where Tim & I discussed it. I have tried to write one – see here

  6. sez johnb: “for two, that’s what backup gas capacity is for (and no, that’s not a massive waste, as obviously you only *use* the gas when wind production is low).”

    You do know you can’t just turn baseload prime power generators on and off at the flick of a switch, don’t you? That to even be capable of being connected to the grid, turbines need to be running within a very narrow window around their optimum operating conditions? And that that burns fuel?

  7. Well, this is kind of on topic.

    “Austin’s clean energy program, costing more, selling less”

    Austin Energy officials say that times have changed and that the nation’s most successful (by volume of sales) green-energy program, which offers the renewable energy only to those who select it, might no longer be the best way to carry out the city’s goals. It now costs almost three times more than the standard electricity rate.
    [ ]
    Duncan said part of the solution might just be adding new wind, solar and other renewable-energy projects into the bills of all Austin Energy customers, which could increase rates for everyone

    http://www.statesman.com/search/content/news/stories/local/2009/07/12/0712greenchoice.html

  8. For reference, here are some graphs and a table on comparative performance of European countries on renewable energy that I knocked up recently from Eurostat data:

    http://www.forever-fuels.com/files/u3/tory_handout.pdf

    From p.5: Spain gets around 7% of its energy (more significant than just electricity) from renewable sources. Less than 3% of that has been added since 1990, thanks to Spain’s magnificent energy policies. A little over half of that was wind.

    Germany is nothing special either. They have increased their share of renewables by around 6.5% since 1990, taking them to a bit over 8% in total.

    That is way behind the Scandinavians and Austria. But those countries haven’t targeted wind, so Greenpeace doesn’t want us to notice them. Which raises the interesting question of whether Greenpeace is more interested in reducing carbon emissions or promoting their favourite technologies? Shouldn’t they be keen on whatever reduces carbon emissions most effectively? And as carbon tax is the thread that unites the Scandies’ energy and environmental policies, and price differentials between alternative fuels have such a clear impact on market shares of the various fuels in different countries, shouldn’t they be backing a technology-neutral carbon-tax to internalize whatever climate-change externality there is, rather than promoting the picking of losers?

  9. So Much For Subtlety

    john b – ” (and no, that’s not a massive waste, as obviously you only *use* the gas when wind production is low).”

    Obviously it is a freaking massive waste. Some of the cost is the gas. A rather large part of the cost of such electricity in fact. But another large part of it is the gas turbine itself. It is not cheap. Well compared to coal or nuclear it is, but it is still tens of millions of dollars sitting around doing nothing.

    Which is where the problems come in. Why not just run the damn gas turbine? You have paid for it anyway when you built the wind mills. You may as well run them both. You end up being an expensive gas plant with some windy real estate and great views.

  10. Luis:

    I don’t find you objectionable–I don’t even know you.

    What I do find objectionable is the frequency with which you answer some particular criticism of something you’ve averred, not by answering the text of the criticism itself with opposing argument but by rephrasing and restating almost the same assertions as though that were an answer to the
    criticisms themselves.

    I really couldn’t be sure whether that’s just a mannerism or more like a regular tactic

    The significance is that some methods of argument are conducive to the attainment of truth and more perfect understanding while others derive a certain “utility” from their ability to confuse matters, especially in the minds of an audience and, thus, to “win” the argument. I am interested very much in the former and not at all in the latter; it is that alone I find objectionable.

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