Lies, damned lies and climate statistics

As the world gathers in Paris for the daunting task of switching from fossil fuels to renewable energy, one small country on the other side of the Atlantic is making that transition look childishly simple and affordable.

In less than 10 years, Uruguay has slashed its carbon footprint without government subsidies or higher consumer costs, according to the national director of energy, Ramón Méndez .

In fact, he says that now that renewables provide 94.5% of the country’s electricity, prices are lower than in the past relative to inflation. There are also fewer power cuts because a diverse energy mix means greater resilience to droughts.

Gosh, how lovely. So, how have they done it?

Hydropower provides around 60% of installed production capacity in Uruguay, almost all of it produced by four hydroelectric facilities, three on the Rio Negro and one, the Salto Grande dam shared with Argentina, on the Uruguay River. The production from these hydropower sources is dependent on seasonal rainfall patterns, but under normal hydrological conditions, can supply off-peak domestic demand.

Isn’t that lovely. So, we’re to dam the Thames and the Severn every 5 miles now, are we?

And what’s truly lovely about the article is that it praises the wind, solar, biomass plants, acknowledges that the country does have hydropower. But it never actually says how much hydropower it has.

The fact is, no one at all has decarbonised as yet without extensive use of either or both nuclear and or hydropower. and yet that’s what we’re being urged to do…..

29 thoughts on “Lies, damned lies and climate statistics”

  1. Our population density is roughly 10x Uruguay’s so it would be hard for us to emulate them. (It it the same with Denmark and wind)

  2. Given the increasing wild beaver population of Britain, we will definitely see more dams being built.

    We just need to train the industrious little darlings to use concrete and to install turbines.

  3. Anon. Isn’t the Denmark scan that they generate 100% renewable, but consume lots of lovely fossil power from Germany?

  4. Also worth looking at the Uruguay economy. Industry’s only 20% & little of that’s energy intensive. They don’t use much energy to start with.

  5. The treefuckers have a point.

    Why can’t we be more like a small third world country situated in the subtropics and only containing 3 million people?

  6. Renewables, ha!

    Their renewables are mainly hydroelectric and it rained a lot and for a long time and they were able to turn of the fossil fuel plants…..

    Follow FrancisT’s link

  7. “Isn’t the Denmark scan that they generate 100% renewable, but consume lots of lovely fossil power from Germany?”

    I thought they exported a lot of the surplus wind generated electricity to Sweden via an interconnector cable, where the Swedes use it on pumped storage hydro, and then when the wind doesn’t blow, or isn’t sufficient for demand, they get the Swedes to turn up the hydro generation a bit more and buy electricity back via the same cable.

  8. >Does it supply peak demand? What happens when “normal hydrological conditions” (define, please) are abnormal?

    Hydro power doesn’t have any trouble with that — look at the Australian schemes.

  9. Could not the effing green brigade live up their name and eat and generate power from Solyent Green produce from their own community?

  10. You can dam the Thames and the Severn every five miles if you like.

    But it won’t produce anything near 60% of the UK’s power requirements, or even 6%.

    Because those rivers don’t drop very far and aren’t actually very big anyway.

    Geography is the killer here.

    And follow Francis T’s link too, where the lie is exposed.

  11. Unicorn Power. 100% natural, renewable, Gaia friendly, and all the other cargo cult science buzzwords. Accept no substation.

  12. Bloke in Costa Rica

    If there were an Alp, or better yet an Ande to be found the length and breadth of Britain then you might be able to make a decent fist of hydro. I wonder what these Grauniadistas, if they ever give it any consideration at all, think a hydroelectric power plant looks like. Hint: they look like this (the Pirrís plant about 35km away from me). I would submit that topography like that is not exactly in abundance in the British Isles.

    Besides, the environmentalists kicked up a stink about this plant, too. The government basically said fuck ’em because otherwise they’d be using imported fossil fuels for power which is a) more polluting and b) wildly more expensive. The Greens are never happy, so it is best to ignore them most of the time and harry them into the ground when necessary.

  13. I you are looking at the Severn it would be much better to consider tidal than dams, pretty impressive tidal flow around the Estuary.
    One of the highest tidal ranges in the world and from some old discussions (it been bandied around for decades) I think the estimate for a tidal barrage was 8000 to 9000 MW though tidal only provides power for 10 hours a day and not the same 10 hours every day. I think there is a hydro element that a barrage would create a large lake that could be used to generate power outside of tidal flows.

  14. Yeah, we know the economics of that. Swansea Barrage has a contract for difference at £160 MWhr.


  15. Having lived near the Severn estuary and spent many an hour walking the sea wall in the past it would be a shame if they did build a barrage, though given the issue trying to agree an M4 relief road through the area I can’t see a barrage ever being approved. It shows a difference in attitude when you see Llanwern steel works smack in the middle of the wetlands though. I’ve seen original plans that include the option of for future doubling the site size (1950’s though it wasn’t completed until the early 60s)

  16. It shows a difference in attitude when you see Llanwern steel works smack in the middle of the wetlands though.

    I used to drive past them regularly, the scale is enormous. God knows how they’d double the size. Are the facilities still there now it’s closed, or has it all been dismantled? For us oil and gas lot, we’re obliged to dismantle and restore the site once we’re finished with something.

    Also, I’ve noticed that sections of the Left can simultaneously oppose the building of a factory and the closing down of a factory, often in pretty much the same spot.

  17. I worked at Llanwern for a very short time. The strip mill was the largest structure I have ever seen. It felt like a mile long. It might have been a mile long. The thought that the place could have been twice as large is mind boggling.

  18. The actually sad part of this Guardian reporting is that this “achievement” is actually backwards. Yes, they has reached nearly 95% “clean” electricity. Down from nearly 150 %, which is what the country had in 1990.

    Yes, they have lots of hydroelectric. Wind has nothing to do with this, and biomass not a lot either. Their consumption has gone up, however, so that they’re no longer exporting the third of the “clean energy” they did not need.

    The Guardian was so stupid that I even felt I had to write a blog post about it.

  19. So Much For Subtlety

    Runcie Balspune – “Britain might not be a suitable place for hydro power, but it is a good place for tidal power, although the greens went loopy over that one too.”

    If there was a serious plan to build a barrage across the Severn I would go loopy, well loopier, too. It is one of the few things I would actually physically protest about.

    It would be absurdly expensive and destroy a very significant bird habitat.

    Jim – “I thought they exported a lot of the surplus wind generated electricity to Sweden via an interconnector cable”

    Norway, surely? Not Sweden.

  20. @ Jim and SMFS
    Denmark has three links, to Germany, Norway and Sweden. The key one used to be to Sweden’s nuclear reactors which underpinned Denmark’s brilliant Green windpower – and Denmark famously had a brown-out when a fault in one of the connecting links failed.Norway is *now* the key one because it has a private (or semi-private) company producing hydroelectricity so it has storage systems (Dinorwig times N) and can adjust hydoelectricity generation to cope with Denmark’s inevitable (and, sometimes, wild) fluctuations.

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