Eu Referendum Demographics: A Different Take.

I've been interested to find out how many people from each age group actually voted in the Eu referendum.

From my findings below I reckon the votes cast by the 18 - 24 age group amounted to barely 6% of the total vote cast. So for every young voter who turned out there were four pensioners who turned out to vote.

We've all seen the standard Eu voting demographic which looks like this:

This is from a quite detailed set of statistics surrounding the referendum by Lord Ashcroft.
The full Lord Ashcroft data is (HERE) and the BBC version is  (HERE).

Both though miss one very important (or vital) statistic. What was the turnout demographic?

Look as you might, there is very little about how many people by each age group voted rather than just which way they cast their vote.

There is this from The Financial Times (HERE) that shows a trend that the older a towns population, the higher the Brexit vote. But while it is qualitatively interesting it gives no real indication of how many people from each age band voted.

But there was one source based on a poll and reported by Sky data on Twitter. Polls, as you know are far from definitive but I think it would be fair to say that it could be regarded as reliable to +/- 5%.

Here is the tweet.

(The caveat that was here relating to the Sky Data has been removed as it proved to be a red herring) 

From this we can see that while 73% 18-24 year olds  voted to remain, only 36% of that age band in total actually turned up to vote. The turn out for this age band was dismal.

In order to translate this into an approximate number of voters, we need to know the population density within that age group.

Here is a demographic table for the UK from Wikipedia (HERE)

We get (approximately)

18 - 24   5,900,000
25 - 34   8,400,000
35 - 44   8,800,000
45 - 54   8,700,000
55 - 64   7,400,000
65+       10,500,000

Clearly, not only is the 18-25 age group the least likely to vote but they are also (by far) the smallest group of voters.

If you now use the the Sky data you can get a rough idea of how many people voted in total from each age band

18 - 24 (5,900,000 * 0.36) 2,125,000
25 - 34 (8,400,000 * 0.58) 4,875,000
35 - 44 (8,800,000 * 0.72) 6,335,000
45 - 54 (8,700,000 * 0.75) 6,525,000
55 - 64 (7,400,000 * 0.81) 5,995,000
65+    (10,500,000 * 0.83) 8,715,000

This above table totals to 34,570,000 whereas the actual total who voted was 33,577,342 which is less than 3% different (2.95%)

I would suggest that within a 5% tolerance the figures above are fairly good.

So from this we can see that for every young vote there were four pensioner votes. The young vote (18- 24) was only 6% of the total vote cast.

If the young had voted with the same dedication as anyone above the age of 35 then the vote would have been with remain.

UK Foreign Aid, the Eu and German Coffee Barons

Of the £13 Billion annual UK foreign aid budget around £600 million is given to Kenya.

Kenya has long ties with the UK and is arguably one of the most progressive countries within Africa. Kenya is striving for self reliance and is a dynamic rising economy.

But the question has to be asked: Why does Kenya need this aid?

Why isn't Kenya self reliant already?

To be self reliant Kenya (or any country) needs to build trade. They need to sell and export Goods and Services. From this trade comes a surplus and from that surplus Kenya could provide the education, health care and education services that are currently propped up by UK foreign aid.

One of Kenya's main industries is growing coffee beans and selling the unprocessed beans to the Eu (Germany in particular)

Compared to selling processed coffee, the profitability of selling coffee beans as a raw material is pitiful. If you spend say £5.00 on a bag of ground processed coffee, then  about 5 pence (1%) will go to the Kenyan coffee grower.

So why don't the Kenyans process their own coffee and sell on the refined product? 

That's where we come to the German Coffee Industry and Eu protectionism.

Germany (and the rest of the Eu) cannot grow coffee beans. So the Eu is happy to have a zero tariff on coffee beans when imported as a raw material. 

But coffee is processed in Germany and the German Coffee Barons don't like competition. Neither does the Eu. 

If the Kenyans wanted to sell processed coffee to the Eu then they get hit by a 7.5% tariff. On the tight margins in a competitive industry that 7.5% is a killer.

AS a result Kenya doesn't invest in processing its own coffee and makes far less than it should out of its coffee industry.

All so German coffee grinders and blenders can operate free from competition.

Meanwhile UK Foreign Aid is used to prop up vital Kenyan services. 

In a perverse way the final destination of a large part of the £600 million UK foreign aid given to Kenya isn't Kenya at all. It ends up lining the pockets of protected and cosseted German Coffee Barons who profit from this unfair competition.

Without punitive and debilitating Eu tariff boundaries the Kenyans could develop their natural industries as they should be developed. Then they could pay for their own services and not be dependent on the largess of the UK government.

Poor Africans striving for a better future deserve better than this.

And so do we.

Vote Leave on Thursday.

Vote Leave for yourself, and vote Leave for the poor African farmers abused by the Eu.

Hat tip to Anna Racoon who looks at further Eu abuse and exploitation of African Farmers Here

A Love Letter to Europe

I know some of our European friends are quite shocked to find out that we will be probably voting to leave the Eu. So I thought I'd write them an explanation why I'll vote Leave. 

My Dear European Friends,

So, how has it come to this?

In 1973 I voted to join the Common Market. I was (and still am) a passionate supporter of a European Free trade area. I love Europe and I love my European friends and work colleagues.

So it is with sadness that I have to tell you that on the 23rd July I will be voting to leave the Eu. This is not a snap decision. I have agonized over this decision for a long time.

I feel I owe you an explanation, so here's why.

The most precious gift possessed by the peoples of Europe is Democracy. It is almost trite to remind you that millions died from all around the world to preserve it and promote it. Now, at last, all European countries are (to a greater or lesser extent) democratic.

Perhaps though, we should not forget that many of the countries in the Eu were, until quite recently, dictatorships. Over half of the countries in the Eu had totalitarian governments within the last 70 years. Maybe that explains the lack of rigour in your demands for democracy within the Eu itself.

That to me, is a very big problem.

Above all else, for me, the lack of democratic accountablity with the Eu is the reason to leave.

Tony Benn was hardly my favorite politician, but he beautifully summarised it as follows:

He said:

" can ask five questions:" 

1. "What power do you have? "
2. "Where did you get it?" 
3. "In whose interests do you exercise it?"
4. "To whom are you accountable?"
5. "And, how can we get rid of you?" 

He then pointed out that

"Anyone who cannot answer the last of those questions does not live in a democratic system."  

The Eu legislature is un-elected and unaccountable. Only the un-elected commission can propose legislation.

True - there is a fig-leaf of democracy in an elected Eu Parliament. But this is an emasculated talking shop. It cannot instigate legislation, which has to be the prime reason for any parliament. The Eu Parliaments powers are for all intents and purposes, little more than the UK House of Lords.

This is wrong.

But worse than this, is the way the Eu bends democracy to breaking point in order to get its way.

Several times treaties have been legitimately and democratically rejected by national referenda. On each occasion the Eu has instigated a fear campaign and forced another referendum within the country concerned to reverse the decision. (See earlier Post here)

Even worse they can (and have) deliberately overthrown democratic decisions. The worst and most flagrant example of this involved the defunct Eu Constitution and the subsequent affront to democracy called the Treaty of Lisbon.

I'll just remind you how this shocking anti-democratic coup took place.

The original Eu Constitution was vetoed by two referenda in France and Holland. Further referenda vetoes were certain.

Consequently the Eu Constitution (per-se) was dropped.

A victory for democracy?


By sleight of hand the Commission resurrected the constitution.

They replaced it with the (deliberately) unintelligible Treaty of Lisbon. It is unintelligible because it is in essence a set of line by line amendments to existing treaties. They are amended to reflect the content of the vetoed constitution.

As an amendment to existing treaties, the Treaty of Lisbon did not require countries to exercise a referendum. Only Ireland held a referendum. They vetoed the Treaty of  Lisbon. Undeterred, the Eu Oligarchy forced a re-run. After a scare campaign the result was reversed.

Democracy was defeated. The ruling Eu Oligarchy ignored the true wishes of the peoples of the Eu. They imposed their Eu Constitution.

Such actions demonstrate a total contempt for democratic rule.

So I simply cannot stand by while an already remote, elitist Oligarchy turns into a dictatorship. My country, my children and my grandchildren deserve better than that.

There is sadly far, far more.

The appalling treatment of African nations,
Debilitating uncontrolled immigration and emigration.
The advanced planning for an Eu "army"
The shocking underhand and undemocratic actions taken in the Ukraine.

Then there is the stinking cesspit of Eu wide cronyism and corruption.

For 40 years all political partys in the UK have tried to deal with these issues. But the unelected self serving Eu elite studiously stone-wall reform and ignore requests to change.

We can do no more.

So there it is my friends. We have to say good-bye.

Maybe the shock of the UK leaving the Eu will get things get sorted out. If the corrupt Eu Oligarchy is brought to heel maybe we can again have a closer relationship. But not with things as they are.

I do hope we can remain friends.



The Eu: What Happens When a Veto is Used

Mr Cameron keeps dripping on about how we have a "Cast Iron Veto" on Turkey joining the the Eu. So I thought I would have a look back through recent history to see how this veto has been used before in the Eu and what happened when is was used.

I have found six occasions where vetoes were issued by National governemnts. On each occasion the veto was either worked round,  ignored, or defeated.

Here's the story of six "Cast Iron Vetoes".

In theory each Eu member state has a veto over treaty change. Sometimes due to the type of treaty change, ratification will invoke the necessity of a referendum. Most of the time though (and not just in the UK) the change only requires Parliamentary approval. As I described recently (post is on this link) this parliamentary approval itself can, and has been in the past, subverted. This subversion avoids the necessity for a formal division and a recorded vote is avoided.

But this post is about six times where member states of the Eu have invoked the "Cast Iron Veto" and what subsequently happened.

Cast Iron Veto Number One 1993 Denmark. Treaty of Maastricht

Denmark held a referendum to approve the Treat of Maastricht. On a very large turn out the people rejected the treaty. So the Danes were the first to issue a "Cast Iron Veto".

The Eu was outraged. The Danish government was ordered to fix the problem.

Consequently the Danish government came up with four opt-outs that they hoped would swing the vote. Less than a year after the first,  another referendum was forced through. A massive ugly propaganda campaign swung the vote. The second referendum overturned the "Cast Iron Veto".

An final twist to this is that since then much effort has been expended by the Eu in trying to water down and remove the opt-outs obtained by Denmark. The Danes have been forced to hold two further referenda (2000 & 2015) to try and remove their opt-outs. The opt-outs remain. Like us, the Danes are getting wise to the mechinations of the Eu.

Cast Iron Veto Number 2 Ireland. Treaty of Nice 2001

In 2001 the Irish voted down the Treaty of Nice. The second "Cast Iron Veto" had been made. After the subsequent fudge to Irish concerns over the threat to their neutrality (the Seville Declaration) and the ritual massive propaganda campaign centering on scaring the electorate, a second referendum was held. The result was overturned.

Cast Iron Veto Number 3 France. Treaty Establishing a Constitution for Europe 2005

The French looked at the Constitution, saw what it would do to their sovereignty and rejected it with a healthy majority. The French "Cast Iron Veto" had been served.
Wikipedia: Treaty establishing a Constitution for Europe Link

Cast Iron Veto Number 4 Netherlands. Treaty Establishing a Constitution for Europe 2005

The Dutch looked at the Constitution, liked it even less than the French and voted it down. The Dutch Cast Iron Veto had been served.

With two countries having rejected the new Constitution and with the UK lined up to deliver a third. The Constitution treaty was dropped.

So was this double veto a victory for the "Cast Iron Veto"?


The Eu had another plan. That plan was the Treaty of Lisbon.
(Wikipedia - Treaty of Lisbon Link)

The Treaty of Lisbon's first killer characteristic was that it was an amendment to existing treaties (not a new one like the Constitution). This was a stroke of malign genius. It meant that governmental approval avoided referenda. It was only, after all, an amendment.

Cleverly The Lisbon Treaty amended existing treaties so that at the end of the day they were to all intents and purposes the same as the defunct constitution.

The Lisbon Treaty was (and is) unintelligible. That of course was its second killer characteristic.

ValĂ©ry Giscard d’Estaing the former French President put it as so:

"The Treaty of Lisbon is the same as the rejected constitution. Only the format has been changed to avoid referendums" 
(See Telegraph Report LInk Here)

d'Estang is also quoted as so

"Public opinion will be led to adopt, without knowing it, the proposals that we dare not present to them directly ... All the earlier proposals will be in the new text, but will be hidden and disguised in some way ... What was [ already] difficult to understand will become utterly incomprehensible, but the substance has been retained."
(Irish Times Report Here)

Karel de Gucht, Belgium's foreign minister, said:

"The aim of this treaty is to be unreadable ... The constitution aimed to be clear, whereas this treaty had to be unclear... It is a success."
(Irish Times Report Link Here)

The "Cast Iron Vetoes" of France and Holland were circumvented.

As an amendment the Treat of Lisbon was pushed through National Parliaments without referenda. The promised UK referendum on the Constitution was now declared unnecessary and quietly abandoned.

But there was one exception. Ireland (again!).

In Ireland somebody, incensed by the proposed change to the Irish constitution without a referendum, took the government to court. He won. This forced the Irish government to hold a referendum on the unintelligible Treaty.

Gloriously the Irish Government (and the Eu ) lost the ensuing referendum.

Cast Iron Veto Number 5 Ireland. Treaty Of Lisbon.

The Eu were apoplectic with rage. It was insinuated that Ireland would be thrown out of the Eu. Various blackmail threats were issued concerning Irish neutrality and abortion laws.
(See Daily Mail Report Link Here)

Eventually the Irish government caved in.

They ran a "study" of Irish voting reasons. They came to the grand conclusion that the electorate had rejected the Treaty of Lisbon because of :  "lack of knowledge/information/ understanding".

To sweeten the pill the Eu threw in a few "promises".
(See Wikipedia Ratification Link Here)

A new referendum was called. This time the Eu spared no quarter in their propaganda onslaught. Like in Denmark, the intimidated electorate swung the other way and the "Cast Iron Veto" was overturned.

Cast Iron Veto Number 6 UK. Euro Accord 2011

Then we come to David Camerons 2011 veto of an amendment to the Treaty of Lisbon.

The Eurocrats wanted to amend the Treaty of Lisbon (remember - the deliberately unintelligible document that is an amendment itself). The amendment was Euro centric and paid little or no thought to the affects it would have on the viability of the UK financial services industry. Cameron begged for an opt-out and was refused.

Amid huge abuse from the Eu, with threats of expulsion coming from both Germany and France, Cameron was forced to use the veto by his back benchers. It was either that or it was bye-bye Conservative Party and Coalition Government.
(See Guardian Story Link Here)

After the ritual Eu tantrums and hysterical threats, the Eu simply ignored Cameron's veto. They passed the legislation without Camerons signature. The only difference was that now instead of being called a Treaty it was called an Accord.

So, far from being a "Cast Iron Veto" on Eu policy, all it achieved (at best) was an unrecognised and undocumented UK opt-out (which I suppose is at least something). True to form then EU had circumvented the "Cast Iron Veto" again.

And that is where we are today. The concept of a "Cast Iron Veto" as eulogised by Cameron is an illusion. The timid will not use it. The devious avoid it. If it does get invoked, it is circumvented, ignored or defeated.

It is purely Smoke and Mirrors.

Nothing more.

Vetos, Turkey, the Eu and Deception

Penny Mordaunt  did get her facts somewhat wrong about the accession veto on #Marr today. Theoretically the UK (and any other Eu State) does have a veto on an accession.

But the theory does not match the reality. Basically the Veto is a sham.

Let me tell you what has happened in the past.

Remember back to the 2005 Eu Treaty of Accession? That was the treaty that granted Eu membership to Bulgaria and Romania. Migration from these two very poor and barely democratic countries was already an Eu wide issue.  Thousands were living illegally in the UK and Germany. Problems abounded, especially in London.

I can remember there was a great deal of public concern about further mass immigration. People were worried about crime, jobs, benefits and the loading on the NHS.

The media went into overdrive mode to play it down. Anyone who questioned the sense in allowing free unchecked access to two very poor countries was shouted down or simply ignored. But the unease among the public was palpable.

The UK has always had a large Euro-skeptic base including many MP's. So it would be reasonable to suppose that those MP's would have vociferously debated and then voted against the 2005 bill granting UK approval for the accession of Bulgaria and Romania.

So even if the majority of MP's supported the accession bill, there would have been a significant verifiable opposition vote we could see today in the records.

Yet not a single MP voted against the accession of Bulgaria or Romania. There is though, a very good reason why they did not vote.

There was no vote.

There was no division. So no vote. Or at least no vote as a member of the public would expect on such a serious matter.

This is taken from Wikipedia (Wikipedia - Treaty of Accession 2005)

No division means no accountable vote.

It was (at best) nodded through on a Voice Vote although even this is unclear. Voice votes either pass or fail. There is no record of who took part in voice votes (assuming there was one). It could have been ten MP's or three hundred (probably the former).

The Public were alarmed. Yet the MP's nodded it through.

Does this give you confidence in the ability of Parliament, when under pressure from their Eu superiors, to even debate a veto let alone apply one?

Of course the Accession then went to the House of Lords who are supposed to scrutinise, comment and if necessary return policy to the House of Commons for further debate and work.

The House of Lords also votes - or not, as in this case.

As in the House of Commons there was no meaningful accountable vote.

Despite severe Public concern, the Accession Bill for Romania and Bulgaria was simply nodded through. The Eu were delighted.

Does that sound like a "Cast Iron Veto" to you?
We have to remember that many of the people in high office in this country are beholden to their masters in the Eu. They fix things to work as their masters want. They fixed the 2005 accession treaty and (if given the chance) they will fix further accession treaties.

If you want democracy in this country then we must break the links to the puppet masters.

Vote Leave on June 23rd.

Intimidate Us Mr Juncker? Really? I'll Raise you 5.

Quote: "If the British leave Europe, people will have to face the consequences"

So Mr Junker, you say: "Deserters will be given no favours". You say the UK "Won't be "handled with kid gloves". (Telegraph Here) (Reuters Here)

I gather one of you avid French sychophants reckons we'll be "killed" if we leave the Eu.

Ooohhh ouch!

Maybe Mr Juncker, I detect a little of the arrogant bully here? You know, frighten the little people? Beat the dog down. Show the UK their place?

I have to tell you Mr Juncker, that bullies usually end up finding out (often the hard way) that victims can become energised by abuse.

So, Mr Juncker, you want to PUNISH the UK do you?

Dare I say that you'd better beware. Else we punish you back.

Laughing are you Mr Juncker?

Really? Like when the bully laughs at his victim who has finally clenched his fist?

You started the threats and terrorist rhetoric Mr Juncker. So now I'll raise you FIVE.

How about a few ideas for starters.

You remember those Typhoon fighter jets, currently protecting your Eastern flank in Lithuania?

Well sorry, we are SO FRIGHTENED by your threats we will simply have to withdraw them to save money.

Then there is all that expensive military assistance and co-operation that keeps much of your various sub-optimal military organisations afloat. Maybe that needs to go.

Costly Royal Navy ships in the Mediterranean? They'll have to go too. They'll be needed her to defend our new fishing limits.

I gather you are a little concerned about Isis and you are heavily reliant on our intelligence. Well, sorry. We can't afford the phone calls any more.

I expect at this point Mr Juncker, you'll be smirking.

Of course the UK wouldn't do such things!  Wouldn't it compromise UK security too?

Ah well. That's a good question.

Remember Mr Juncker here you are reading from one of the little people. I am not one of the Metropolitan elitist snobs who currently rule this ravaged little land.

So just for a moment, look at it from the position of the proles Mr Juncker. Rather than from the view point of your sycophants and toadies.

Is a faint and distant threat (for us) from Russia more destructive to the UK than being overwhelmed and ruled by you and your associated Oligachs?

Funnily we feel somewhat less insecure about Mr Putin than you do. After all there is 1600 Kilometers of Europe between the English Channel and Russia. Then, don't forget, there is another 30 kilometres of water between Europe and us.

As for intelligence on the threat from Isis we find the Five Eyes (Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and the United States.) constitutes our defence (and yours too for that matter).

In reality, your shabby corrupt Eu intelligence doesn't really add much does it? Maybe we would get a little bit more conservative about what we share.

But anyway Mr Juncker, I can give you a comforting thought.

These are only my ideas of what UK retaliation could result from your "punishment".

The good news for you is that our current bunch of ruling Metropolitan snobs would probably NEVER contemplate such things.

But I have some bad news too.

You know those little people? The ones you deride, intimidate and sneer at?

Well, even after all the Eu bullying, lies, deceit and scare mongering, about half the UK electorate (at least) will vote to leave the Eu. Maybe many more.

Just think Mr Juncker and ask yourself this:

How many of those 30 million bullied, vilified and terrorised little people would now commit to defending your ugly monolithic anti-democratic Eu extravaganza?

Any? (I think maybe none.)

Maybe due to your threats and intimidation we will lose the referendum. Or maybe we will leave and you will "punish" us as described.

On a personal level, in either case, I will personally do my very best to oppose, subvert and dilute any support to your Oligarchy from then on.

So if either of these circumstances come about, I won't be marching to your defence Mr Juncker.

Much less my children.

Ever. Under any circumstance.

Furthermore I'd do my best oppose any UK support or commitment to the Eu. For any reason.

I would if necessary, lie in front of tank transporters, close runways and prevent ships sailing. Basically Mr Juncker, I will do my very best to ensure NO UK military or financial commitment is spent in defending or propping up any part of your Oligarchy.

Of course I'm just one of the little people.

Such statements from one of the proles may be regarded as trivial and simple bluster. But remember Mr Juncker, there are at least 30 million of us despised and derided little people who feel the same way in the UK. So beware.

But let us cool it down a little and end on a more conciliatory note. I'll condense the above into a few simple words.

Basically Mr Juncker, we can have friendly relations with the Eu.

Or not.

As is your choice.

But please, do not expect hostile Eu actions against the UK to go without consequence.

The Sunshine of Your Life

A long time ago I wrote a blog post (Here) about how a crippling disease had returned to the UK. This disease (called Rickets), was not caused by some immunity to anti-biotics or some super-strain bacteria. The main cause of Rickets is simply a deficiency of vitamin D.

One of the main sources of vitamin D is sunlight.

It turned out that a number of parents were so paranoid about the possibility that their children might get cancer from the sun they forebade them from playing outside. This coupled with a lousy diet led to their children getting Rickets.

But it now turns out that this deprivation of sun exposure was also likely to statistically shorten their children's lifespan by up to 2 years as well.

It would also have zilch effect on reducing any risk of getting cancer.

This information comes from an authoritative recent Swedish Paper (Article Here and Paper Here)

Previous studies have taken a high, dangerous sun exposure level and then compared that to lower levels of exposure. The lower exposure groups suffered less incidence of cancer. So it became a given among many that sunlight, (any sunlight) was a cancer risk The assumption was made that the less sun you got the safer it was.

This new study of 30,000 Swedish women, conducted over 20 years, was done differently. It started with a group which had little/no sun exposure and then compared their life expectancy (and risk of various diseases) to two other groups within the 30,000 women, One group had moderate sun exposure and one group had higher (though not extreme) sun exposure.

The study found that those that had greater sun exposure lived longer. This was mainly due to a reduction in non cancerous illness such as heart disease.

Even so, when looking across all groups, from those with no sun exposure through to those with high but sensible sun exposure, the rate of cancer deaths was at least unchanged if not slightly reduced for of the sun worshippers.

The effect of sunlight on improving life expectancy is so marked that smokers who sun-bathed had the same life expectancy as non smokers who had no sun.

Notice how is all these graphs those avoiding sun suffered the highest death rate after 20 years.
 As the paper makes clear, it could be that some of the benefits of sun exposure may stem not from the sun but from a better lifestyle reflected in the ability to do more more sun bathing.

But whatever the reasons, the study blows a big hole in the concept of Linear No threshold (LNT) risks associated with sun exposure. Clearly too much sun is dangerous. But then again so is too little.

There is no linear relationship of risk versus sun exposure.

But whatever.

It is good to know that you are actually doing your kids a favour by letting them play in the sun.

As with almost all things in life, the important thing is to act with moderation and common sense.

Is there Something (Else) Wrong with Wind Power?

We all know wind power is intermittent. I thought I would take a look at how predictable windpower intermittency is and how accurate wind power output predictions are.

In the process I think I have tripped over a new issue regarding wind generation (but more on that later).

The bmreports site (HERE) has a section on wind generation and shows a graph of an original output prediction, a more recent and accurate revised prediction and also the actual out-turn.

The original forecast value is done 41 hours before the start of the forecasted day. The revised forecast is done 4 hours before the start of the forecasted day. The predictions use weather forecast data for the known wind farm locations and factor in a range of other parameters. These are sophisticated predictions and are probably as good as they get.

Here is a few example snap shots taken in the last month from the bmreports site.

But as well as this continuously updated graph, bmreports also publish the same 3 day data as an xml file. I've collected the xml files for one month. (Annoyingly I missed two days so these have been left out. But even so I think this is quite a good data set.)

Above is a graph of this data showing the final revised prediction done 4 hours before the start of the predicted day (red) and the final out-turn (blue).

(I've left out the original prediction as for obvious reasons, it was more in error of the final out-turn and so added little to the graph). Note: Actual metered capacity is actually 8972MW so the graph is unduly kind stopping at 8000.)

The first thing that can be seen is that the out-turn is often (not occasionally) in significant variance with the predictions. The graphs may be the same shape but the values at any one point in time are often significantly different. Clearly, any system with a large wind component that relied completely on even a near term forecast (and without spinning reserve) would soon end up in deep trouble.

So whatever the pro-wind zealots preach on Twitter, the problem with lack of wind power predictability has not gone away. Neither has its intermittency.

But potentially the example bmreports graphs (as well as mine) also show another problem. 

Notice in the above graphs how on the occasions the wind output rises above about 30% capacity (3000MW), during the rise, the out-turn lags the predictions and the maximum out-turn is significantly less than either of the predictions. 

It is as if a large proportion of wind turbines exposed to a rising wind and high wind periods are being feathered (or throttled back) for some reason during these periods.

At lower wind speeds there are still periods of great discrepancy between prediction and output but the tracking between prediction and output does appear more coherent. (Remember this forecast was done 4 hours before start of predicted day!)

Wind energy companies only get paid when they are generating. So why would they throttle back their turbines in high winds?

And the answer to that I believe is good old repair and maintenance.

For almost any machine, if you run it lightly it lasts longer. Take a car. The harder you drive a car the more wear and tear it suffers. Just about all rotating machinery obey this simple rule – including wind turbines.

We know that there is a severe generic problem with wind turbine gearbox reliability. (See This Post - The Ghost in the Gearbox and Post - More Ghosts in the Gearbox )

I would suspect that it has been found that if the loading on a wind turbine gets above a certain value the wear rate and maintenance/repair cost will be far more than the return from the extra energy generation.

So maybe operators are unilaterally and quietly deciding that when the wind gets too changeable or too strong, the turbines will be run at reduced output compared to what they are supposed to be capable of.

Wind turbines are capital intensive. If you suffer a catastrophic failure you will ruin the huge and guaranteed profit (subsidy included) your turbines can make. Do it too many times and you may end up going bust. Better to ignore the whole reasoning, propaganda and hype associated with why the thing was built in the first place and go for the low hanging fruit.

Remember most windfarms have a 25 year subsidy regime locked in place. It's a nice little earner. Operators are going to do whatever it takes to maximise the financial gain over this period and if that includes reducing output to make their gearboxes and other expensive components last a bit longer then they will do it. The abatement of Carbon Dioxide can go to hell.

This, of course, makes an even bigger mockery of the often hyped “Installed Capacity” figure than it already is. It also shows how the unreliability of these machines impacts the supposed reason they were built.

It means that wind power is perhaps even more useless and under-achieving than first thought.

I cannot prove the operators are intentionally throttling back their turbines to reduce their maintenance bills. 

But I bet I'm right.

Whales, Wind Turbines and Fukushima

A picture speaks a thousand words. But those words may not be the ones intended by those whose action inspired the image.

Here we have a sad image of a dead whale lying on a Lincolnshire beach. Evidently a pod became confused and made the fatal mistake of swimming into ever shallower water. Their food supply diminished and they probably died from dehydration. (Whales get the fluid from their food)

Whales becoming confused and dying is sadly a natural event. It occurs many times a year all over the world. These events have happened over many millenia.

But why did these Whales get confused? What possible man-made influence could have affected this tragedy?

There are those who idiotically believe that any such event must always be the fault of man. These events are always man-made and they believe that without question.

Driven by their fashionable paranoia, they always quick to point fingers at their standard bogey men. "The Military", "The Oil Industry" are to name but two.

But it takes a particular type of vacuous idiot to scrawl "Fukishima" (sic) on a dead whale that died 9000 Kilometers away from a contained accident that happened nearly five years ago.

Especially as the idiot studiously ignores a more probable cause that can be clearly seen in the background of the photograph. (It would also be a good idea if the idiot learned to spell Fukushima as well).

So, is it likely that nearby ineffective offshore windfarms caused this tragedy?

True - offshore windfarms have massively unreliable gearboxes and produce ridiculously expensive intermittent electricity. But are they Whale killers?

Probably not.

These useless totems to stupidity would obviously be a more realistic contender than a 5 year old nuclear accident that happened half a world away.

But the death of these whales is most probably just another random act of nature.

Once upon a Wikio

Several years ago when I set this up this blog, I signed up for a blog amalgamation service. The service known as Wikio also provided popularity positioning data displayed on a nice little click through button which you could place on your blog.

This link took you to their site. The site had a range of similar and divergent blog posts from around the world.

Not only that, it gave your blog a popularity rating defined by how many readers you got on Wikio. This was shown on the button. Nice feature eh?

Back then it was really was worthwhile. I added it to this blog expecting it to be useful to
anyone reading this who wanted to read similar or opposing views. I used it myself for quite some time.

Then for me, (as you do), it fell into disuse

I personally had not clicked on the button for some time - until tonight.

Now this button takes you through to a "shopping site". Not good.

What a con and what a shame.

Don't bother looking for the button now. I've removed it.

Another Year for Sgt Blackman

Actually, I am quite surprised to be writing this.

Before continuing I should point out I'm neither a serving or retired Royal Marine. Or for that matter any other form of service personnel. In fact if I was asked to tackle the Marines rookie assault course I'd probably drop dead a quarter way through (on a good day).

But even so, as a bog standard “member of the public” I can like most folk, still smell the stench of a political stitch-up.

Last year (HERE) I wrote about the cavalier injustice that was handed out to one of our bravest and best. Namely one Sgt Blackman of the Royal Marines.. But my words are an insignificance.

In a stunning year, a brilliant campaign run by utter and complete political novices managed to get one petition signed by well in excess of 100,000 people. There were also (ordered and polite) demonstrations and other petitions and displays of objection to this travesty of justice.

The government spin doctors were grudgingly forced to mouth their platitudes again and again to the outraged and disbelieving public. The governments fatuous statements sounding more hollow each time.

As a bystander, I was expecting Cameron to smell the coffee and at least arrange something (anything) to get Sgt Blackman out of jail before Christmas.

I was wrong.

I don't know if this inaction is due to crass incompetence, cowardice, or that Cameron just doesn't give a toss. Most probably it is a mix of all three.

Of course the metropolitan elitist snobs who sneer at the likes of Sgt Blackman, his mates and supporters are probably chortling away.

They'll be laughing at how Cameron is so ready to betray a brave and damaged man to the god of political correctness. They'll snigger at Cameron's gutlessness and how he is so ready to sell out one of the few defenders of democracy this country has.

We must remember that above all else, that is what Sgt Blackman and his colleagues are. They are the defenders of our democracy. They are the last line of defence of our freedoms. They do as the elected government directs them. Which is eternally to their honour.

A quote attributed to George Orwell (and sometimes mis-attributed to Churchill) reads:

We sleep soundly in our beds because rough men stand ready in the night to visit violence on those who would do us harm.

We stand free to blog/write/argue/love and live free because of Sgt Blackman and his colleagues.

If these defenders of our freedom walked away, maybe in disgust at the way Sgt Blackman has been treated  .... We would really be in trouble.

Decency and common justice demands Sgt Blackman should be released . Not only that, he should be generously compensated for his false imprisonment.

This issue will NOT go away. People will not give up. For the metropolitan elite, this will only get worse the longer it goes on. It will get more embarrassing and more politically damaging.

The only way forward is for the government and judiciary to acknowledge a gross injustice has been done. Even though this may be politically embarrassing - it has to be done.

We await (with growing anger) the immediate release of Sgt. Blackman RM


To follow the campaign to getting Sgt Blackman the freedom and justice he rightly deserves:

Follow the campaign on Twitter with handle  

hashtags #justiceformarineA #freemarineA #marineA


Robespierre, Hansen and Denialism

Once upon a time there was an organisation called “The Committee of Public Safety”. It was a bit like Orwell's later inventions of “The Ministry of Truth” and the “Ministry of Peace”. They were all the antithesis of what their name suggested.

The leader of the “The Committee of Public Safety” was a guy called Maximilien Robespierre. Robespierre rose to power during the French Revolution. During one year from 1793 though to 1794, the “Committee For Public Safety” executed/murdered somewhere between 40,000 and 200,000 people. (History Today Article Here)

Today the victims of the “Committee for Public Safety” are usually superficially presented as Toffs or Aristocrats. In fact the vast majority were just common folk who were simply in the wrong place at the wrong time. 

Appalling as that is, it is very important to understand that Robespierre was not corrupt.

Robespierre neither sought money or privilege. Though he was driven by his revolutionary zeal to seek power he was to all affects and purposes, an honest man. (just like Hitler)

Robespierre was dedicated to his cause. In a bizarre way he was dedicated to the “Public Good”.

Nobody can challenge Robespierre's good intentions. Though we may all well remember what paves the Road to Hell.

Robespierre's good intentions did not prevent him from denouncing honest citizens or even his fellow revolutionaries when it suited his ends. 

During a period know as “The Terror” Robespierre sent close friends and political allies to the guillotine as well as thousands upon thousands of hapless citizens who were really only guilty of bad timing and political unfashionability. (Wikipedia on "The Terror" Here)

Today in France, Robespierre is a synonym for a disgusting, bigoted, paranoid spasm in French history. As well as a blinkered paranoid and failed doctrine.

In modern France, no statues exist to Robespierre. Nor should they.

So how does this relate to Jim Hansen or Global Warming or even Denialism?

I expect you know that Dr J. Hansen is a Scientist of major repute. I won't bother going into his achievements here (just Google the Guy) but I suppose I should 'fess up that generally speaking (with a few caveats) I adhere to his analysis and listen carefully to what he has to say.

Today in a Robspierre-like tirade in the Guardian, Hansen, along with 3 other heavy duty scientists are preposterously accused of being Deniers. (See Guardian Article Here)

Of course the term “Denier” is remisciscent of other labels pumped out by bigots. "Witch", "Heretic", “Jew”, “Sympathiser”, “Collaborator” all come to mind. In Robespierre-speak the de-rigeur term was “Anti-Revolutionary Traitor “.

Today we have not one Robspierre but many. Each one using their spiteful categorizations to inhibit discussion and debate. The latest tirade in the Guardian is but one of many.  "The Terror" of Robspierre's time is today mirrored in the intellectual terrorism of political correctness that seeks to deny a voice to our finest scientists.

Today highly experienced and world leading scientists (like Hansen, Wigley,Emanuel and Caldeira) suggest we should pragmatically pursue Nuclear Power to fight Global Warming and Atmospheric Pollution. In the eyes of the Guardian, that is their crime.

To label this illustrious group (or anyone) as “Deniers” because they support a viable way of avoiding a potential calamity is just a descent into the modern day version of “The Terror”.

Today in the likes of WWF or Greenpeace and especially the Guardian newspaper, Citizen Robespierre would be quite at home.

Plutonium Man

Ask anyone in the Anti-nuclear movement about Plutonium. 

They'll tell you that Plutonium is the the most deadly, poisonous and life threatening element on the planet. A whiff or possibly a cut or wound infected with a mere trace of Plutonium and then – that's it. Finito. Bye bye. Farewell.

These beliefs, as stated above, are just utter bollocks. And scientifically proven utter bollocks at that.

Let me try and prove it to you.

Of course I could (but won't) cite the many empirical examples of folk who in the early days used to carry (by hand – no gloves) plutonium from one room to another.

Or how at the opening of Calder Hall in 1957 Her Majesty the Queen was handed a small slab of Plutonium in a plastic bag so she could see what it felt like.

So what actual scientific proof can I provide – other than another 4 or 5 anecdotal stories of Plutonium encounters?

Well, there is the Plutonium Man.

Or more precisely Dr Eric Voice.

Eric Voice was a dedicated anti-nuclear (weapons) campaigner and also a leading scientist in the development of the UK's nuclear power industry (that is before we in the UK threw it all away).

He died some years ago of Motor Neurone disease aged 80.

Eric Voice was appalled by the lies, innuendo, fear mongering and hysteria surrounding the supposed effects of Plutonium. So he (and others) devised an rigorous scientific experiment in which Eric Voice would be the primary Guinea Pig.

This carefully structured experiment (that actually lasted through till his death) involved Voice being exposed to (initially) injected Plutonium and then inhaled Plutonium. While Dr Voice was the lead “Guinea Pig” in this experiment 10 other individuals bravely put their names forward and also took part in the experiment. To this day they remain anonymous.

None of the participants suffered any ill effects.

No doubt this did not sit well with the press or the vested interest groups. Today they still lie to you and promote the belief that a whiff of plutonium (let alone getting it in the blood stream) is terminal. 

Yet they know about Eric Voice. Yet they never mention him. Its just too embarrassing.

Lets face it the anti-nuclear movement and their prostitutes in the press never let the truth get in the way of a lurid story.

We have got to throw off this stupid medieval anti-nuclear superstition that infects us. Being scared of our own shadow really does diminish us all. 

Here are a couple of obituaries on Dr Eric Voice. A true scientist, humanitarian and a great guy.

Navitus Bay: The End of the Line

For all the green lobby's whinging over the cancellation of Navitus Bay there is something we all need to be crystal clear about:

Navitus Bay Offshore Wind Park was recommended for rejection by the quasi-judicial Independent Planning Authority. Not the government.

The Planning Authority were influenced by objections from UNESCO, English Heritage, the local mainland councils and thousands upon thousands of local people who took the trouble to write in and object.

The government merely rubber-stamped the planning authorities decision.

Even EDF recognised this when yesterday they abandoned the last avenue for appeal – a Judicial revue.

Why did they abandon it?

Because they knew they would lose hands down. The Planning Authority decision was rock solid.

Even so Amber Rudd is getting it in the neck from the Green lobby for announcing the final veto. One can only assume that the Greens think the government should over-rule independent bodies if they arrive at decisions the Greens do not like.

The Greens never have been too keen on democracy and the rule of law – unless it has been in their favour.

Sadly though, for every offshore wind complex that is rejected there will be ten approvals.

These schemes will be equally as costly and useless as Navitus. But the coastlines they ruin just will be a little more ordinary than the Jurassic coast. A little more expendable. While their fatuous extravagance will be funded by the ever growing army of those in fuel poverty.

The appalling waste that is off-shore wind will go on.

Nuclear Power, Hinkley C and Sizewell B.

Today Europe is struggling to build two EPR reactors. To be fair, they are getting there. But progress has been slow and costly.

Today a third EPR reactor is planned for Hinkley Point in Somerset. To ensure Chinese and French backers stay with the project the government has given a £2 Billion guarantee against cancellation as well as guaranteeing a strike price of over £90 MWh

The mooted price for this one reactor is over £20 billion. Even at this eye watering price the government is desperate to see Hinkley C progress because it is the only viable 24/7 emissions free power generation available.

Even if they have to pay this ransom it is still cheaper than onshore wind and hugely cheaper than offshore wind, both of which need fossil fuel backup anyway. So the government has little choice but to pay.

But there is something wrong here.

The last UK nuclear power plant was commissioned only 20 years ago. Sizewell B cost £2 billion or about £4 billion in todays money.

Sizewell B came in under budget. The grid connection (planned in 1987) was for Christmas 1994. It actually happened barely one month late. The build took a mere 7 years. At the time it was lauded as a shining example of how to build large infrastructure projects. (See Independent article here)

But even so, Sizewell B is essentially a prototype. No commercial Light Water Reactor had been built in the UK before. So building to timescale and to budget is even more remarkable.

Eight "Sizewell B's" were planned. If they had been built the power supply outlook in the UK today would be entirely different. But due to extreme political fear mongering, opportunism and anti nuclear hysteria the other seven were canned.

The UK ended up relying on Gas backed up by the likes of DRAX and Longannet both burning vast quantities of imported coal for the next 20 years. The number of subsequent deaths and shortened lives from air pollution must be in the order of  50,000. I'll work it out properly in a future post.

(If you doubt this ball park figure of 50,000 dead read these two papers  by some of the worlds leading scientists and figure it out yourself. Karecha & Hansen and Markyanda & Wilson)

So I have to ask: Why is it that in a time scale of twenty years we have gone from  producing a nuclear power plant to budget and on time to a bloated massively expensive and chaotic shambles?

Don't forget the Sizewell B plant is an early example of Generation III reactor (See IMechE article here). As near as dammit Sizewell B it is as good as an EPR and at one fifth the price

I reckon we need to take a pause.

Instead of building horrendously complex and expensive EPR's maybe we should go back to the original plan and build a few more "Sizewell B" type PWR's. After all we still have the prototype - and it has been working for 20 years!

Then we can invest the money saved from not building the ludicrously expensive EPR's in Generation 4 nuclear prototyping and research.

This way within 10 years we can have a reliable cheap carbon free power supply from a proven designs and maybe working PRISM and/or LFTR prototype reactors coming
on line.

Well, its just an idea......


Post posting note:

Thanks to @Davey1233 on twitter there are a few corrections I should add which, while not detracting from the achievement of Sizewell B do restore some of my faith in the EPR.

He correctly points out that Hinkley will be around 3 times the output capacity of Sizewell B and the true "todays" figure for Sizewell should be more like £5 billion not 4. Consequently comparing output power like for like the cost difference shrinks from a ratio of 1:5 to about 1:1.25

So maybe Hinkley C is not quite such a rip off - although I would still suggest the builders are being more than amply rewarded and have managed to secure this lucrative deal simply because the government is over a barrel.

In reality these decisions regarding the construction of nuclear power stations in the UK should have been taken 10 - 20 years ago. Instead the governments of the time simply kow-towed to the ignorance and hysteria of the Green lobby.

We desperately need nuclear power. Without it we could well end up slipping back into dependency on coal - just like they have in Germany. That is in nobodys interest.

Navitus Bay Wind Park – The Community Wins.

So finally, the monster is dead.

Navitus bay wind park – nearly 200 massive turbines threatening to scar the Dorset coast is no more.

There is a possibility the developer (NBDL) may try a Judicial Review. But even if they win it is a long way back.

I think it is worth looking at this heroic community defence against a foreign corporate giant. A giant who had effectively limitless resources, yet still failed.

So why was Navitus Bay rejected while most other coast-scarring monsters have had the go-ahead?

A major reason Navitus Bay was rejected had nothing to do with the amount of seabed damage, or the job losses that would ensue in the tourist trade and certainly nothing to do with the extortionate cost and ineffectiveness of the whole scheme. It was in essence rejected because of its unique position.

Navitus Bay, beggaring belief, was going to be built off the World Heritage Jurassic Coast. Arrogant as ever, the NBDL impact assessment estimated virtually a nil impact on this special location.

Luckily for us UNESCO disagreed. The UNESCO report (prepared by the IUCN) comprehensively junked the self serving NBDL documentation.

After the humiliation meeted out by the IUCN report most honourable and decent organisations would have then backed away. But not NBDL.

I suppose they were so used to seeing government assisted wind farm developers trample over local concerns they thought they could ignore a UN agency as well. In most circumstances they would probably have been right.

While the UNESCO report was devastating, NBDL might still have pulled it off.

But then the brick wall of community opposition hit them.

National Records were set. Navitus Bay became the most objected development in UK history.

Thousands of people poured over the mountain of obfuscated and unclear documentation. They exposed howlers, errors and half truths. Many of which may well have been missed by an overwhelmed Planning Inspectorate.

We were particularly blessed by having the “Challenge Navitus” team. A volunteer group who literally took the NBDL documentation apart.

We had the local MP's on-board, and the mainland councils as well. They all made lots of noise about how terrible this scheme would be.

In essence, Navitus Bay was defeated by the community.

Without mass community objection then even this World Heritage Coast scarring monster may have been approved. The solid and long term opposition to this planned outrage is to the eternal credit to the people of Dorset.

So if you are confronted by one of these money hungry coast defiling carpet baggers always remember your community is probably more powerful and resourceful than you think. Encourage community objection.

Developers love to insist that resistance is useless.

It never is.

Wind Turbines: More Ghosts in the Gearbox

There is a wall of silence from the wind industry regarding wind turbine reliability. But once in a while data seeps out through the wall to the general public. A little bit of new seepage has just come to my notice.

The last time I blogged about wind turbine reliability was after I had come across an obscure department within the USA government National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) called the Gearbox Reliability Collective (GRC). The purpose of this U.S. government sponsored department is to address the appalling and largely hidden reliability problems with wind turbines, particularly gearboxes.

The GRC has their own website here: 

My first post on the GRC is On This Link 

The GRC is not alone. Clearly there are several European agencies and groups working on this problem too. Unfortunately information on them is very obscure. I am unaware of any public access to their data other than when it is mentioned by the GRC.

What has just caught my attention is a 2013 paper from the GRC. The  paper is titled: 

Report on Wind Turbine Subsystem Reliability ─ A Survey of Various Databases.

The paper is on this link:

If you look at the linked document above you will find a survey of many wind turbine failure databases held in Europe and the USA.

As far as I can ascertain there is no public access to any of this data except to that presented in this paper. If I am wrong I would be grateful for any links – I have found none.

The figures from Europe in this survey stop short of fully quantifying failure rates. They do though hint at a failure rate increase for larger turbines and crucially, also for direct drive turbines.

We also have the USA data in the same document. Some of the USA data goes right up to 2013. This American data is far more open and definitive. It gives failure rates for all major components not just the gearboxes.

Here is the table (see page 31) relating to expected annual gearbox and generator failure rates for on-shore turbines.

The NREL reckons for gearboxes this averages out at 5% per year for the first ten years. Notice that in year 5 it hits 10%. 

Whatever way you cut it statistically around about 50% of turbines will suffer a gearbox failure within 10 years. Remember this is for properly maintained, serviced and generally “looked after” turbines.

But also remember – that is ONLY the gearbox. The generator is “slightly” more reliable coming out at an average failure rate of 3.5% per year or 35% over ten years.

So for an onshore turbine in the USA the chances of a properly serviced and maintained turbine failing due to gearbox or generator issues within 10 years is 85%.

If you include the other potential failure areas (say the blades - failure rate quoted at 2% per annum) then statistically, it is almost surely that a properly maintained and serviced wind turbine will suffer a major failure within 10 years. It looks like most failures will occur in year 5 or 7.

All rotating machinery can (and will) break down. But wind turbines are operating in a chaotically changing and hostile environment (offshore turbines even more so). A gas plant by comparison is operating in a closely controlled and regulated environment. So per Megawatt-Hour, the wind turbine will require much more maintenance.

The energy return from a wind turbine is simply inadequate to pay for the very high demands placed on maintenance and repair. As the machine gets older more maintenance and repair will be required. Eventually the point will be reached (7-10 years?) where the maintenance/repair bills exceed the returns.

The often hyped 25 year life span for a wind turbine would appear to be hopelessly optimistic.

Currently the only way round this problem is to hugely increase the price of the electricity generated by the machine from day one. This is essentially what the current government subsidies do.

But one day the subsidies will have to fall. When this happens, or as the turbines get older and more unreliable, the wind farms will end up being be sold on - and on.

The new owners will be ever more dubious organisations. Eventually the turbines will be run until they suffer the final major failure that renders the turbine beyond economic repair. Then they will be abandoned.

When the last one fails and the payments stop, the bailiffs will arrive to claim the “guaranteed” decommissioning fund. But by then the main company office will be a post box in Belize and the decommissioning fund will be long gone.

Remember almost all of the data in the above paper is for on-shore turbines.

When you go offshore the maintainability and reliability falls off a cliff. The consequent subsidies sky-rocket.

But more on that in another post.

Sendai Nuclear Reactor Restart

Both Sendai reactors (unit 1 and unit 2) have now been restarted. Sendai unit 1 has just started providing electricity to the grid. (August 14th)

So how will this affect Japans Carbon Dioxide emissions? And how would renewables (say wind) compare?

When nuclear was shut down in Japan it was replaced with an unholy mix of coal and gas (with about 7% oil) A rough estimate of the amount of Carbon Dioxide from the generation that replaced nuclear would be around 750Kg of Carbon Dioxide for every MegaWatt Hour of energy generated (750KG/MWh)

Sendai, during its last year of full operation generated just short of 13TWh of electricity (13000 GigaWatt Hours) So today, the first day of generation, Sendai unit one (half of the power plant) will have generated around 18GWh of energy. This will displace energy that would have otherwise been generated from the coal/gas/oil mix

So a rough estimate of the amount of Carbon Dioxide prevented from being dumped into the atmosphere by this single day of generation from half a nuclear power plant amounts to 18000 x 750 = 13.5 million Kg of Carbon Dioxide or 13500 Tonnes.

A single day of operation from half a nuclear power plant prevents the emission of 13500 Tonnes of carbon Dioxide.

Amazing isn't it?

How would a renewables option compare?

An 150m high 2MW wind turbine with a typical 25% capacity factor would intermittently produce 12MWh in a day. Or using same units as Sendai - 0.012GWh

So to match the single day output from half of Sendai nuclear power plant (and ignoring the problems of intermittency) would would need 1500 turbines.

Or to put it another way, for a single turbine to match a single days energy generation from half of Sendai nuclear power plant would take that turbine four years, one month and nine days.

Don't figures like that just knock you out?

Lies Propaganda and Methane

I find myself an unlikely defender of fracking. This is not because I think there is anything particularly dodgy (or wonderful) about fracking but because I think that gas is only useful in the short term. The hope for a low pollution low emissions future lies firmly with nuclear.

Even so, I feel I need to blog the rampant scare mongering, lies and black propaganda surrounding what is a relatively minor modification to a well established industrial activity.

I wont bore you with yet another synopsis of fracking or how fracturing rock in non horisontal wells has been common practice for about 40 years. Instead I'll cut straight to the fear mongering surrounding fracking.

Fear Mongering Item One: Water Table Pollution

After years of outright lies, faked or irrelevant videos (including flaming faucets) and other general hysteria about water table pollution, the US Environmental Protection Agency produced a mammoth report on the potential and real impacts of Fracking on drinking water (Executive Summary Here)

This report, while carefully worded, essentially demolishes the whole basis of the propaganda alleging widespread pollution and water contamination from fracking.

True, there have been a small number of spills and pollution incidents, mainly from poor well head and surface maintenance. These have been dealt with and in some cases prosecuted as you would expect.

In the USA, fracking is a very, very large and diverse industry. Sadly occasional errors do and will occur. All industries suffer similar and often much worse failures.

But rampant water table pollution? No.

Black propaganda always has a shelf life. Today the lies and gross exaggeration peddled about fracking and water table damage is now pretty much an embarrassing busted flush.

So instead, now we have:

Fear Mongering Item Two: Methane Leaks

Using natural gas (Methane) as a replacement for coal in Electrical generation cuts the Carbon Dioxide emissions by about a half. That is why people are excited about it as a way to reduce Carbon Dioxide emissions.

Since around 2007 when Fracking took off in the USA Fracking gas has replaced coal to such an extent that USA Carbon Dioxide emissions from electrical generation have been reduced by about 15%.

Her is a graph on how its dropped in the last few years.

It might not look like much but it is the largest drop for any country in the world in the last ten years. Today Dirty USA has electricity emissions that are lower than Energiewende obsessed Germany.

Notice how the drop correlates with the rise in fracking in the graph below.

So whats not to like?

Methane is a Greenhouse gas about 25 times more virulent than Carbon Dioxide. So if you use Methane to cut down Carbon Dioxide emissions by replacing Coal with it, but then manage to lose somewhere between 4 and 7% of your gas into the atmosphere you end up back at square one. Lose a higher percentage and you are in negative territory.

(First of all - as an analogy, would you happily slop close on to a gallon of fuel over your shoes every time you filled your car because the filler cap leaked? Or would you get it fixed?)

The general anti-fracking hysteria surrounds a respectable 2013 paper by Karion Sweeney et. al. In their paper on a single day they measured rogue Methane above one area of the USA. They found leakage rates corresponding to 6-11%.

Is that bad? Yes.

Does it need investigating further? Yes.

Does it mean that gas fields in USA are leaking between 6-11%? No.
(Paper is Here)

To be fair to Karion, Sweeney and colleagues - they do say in the introduction:
This study demonstrates the mass balance technique as a valuable tool for estimating emissions from oil and gas production regions and illustrates the need for further atmospheric measurements to determine the representativeness of our single-day estimate and to better assess inventories of
CH4 emissions.

The main and most definitive source for data on Methane and other gaseous emissions in the USA is the US EPA (Environmental Protection Agency). They have been accumulating evidence on American rogue Methane for over 30 years.

Firstly the EPA have produced a breakdown of the different industrial areas that release rogue Methane. (document ref Here )

They also give an idea of Methane release by year.

From this graph we see rogue Methane from all sources has actually fallen by 15% since 1990 to 2013. The greatest decrease has actually coincided with the massive shale gas bonanza from 2007. Furthermore the EPA state that while rogue Methane has fallen by 15%. the rogue Methane emitted by farming has actually risen and has been offset by a bigger fall in release of rogue Methane from the oil and gas industry. So while fracking has been rapidly expanding, Methane loss has actually gone down in the oil and gas industry by somewhere between 15-20%.

The main reason organisations like the FoE continually promote mistruths about Methane release is because of the success Gas has had in cutting Carbon Dioxide emissions in the USA while their poster boys of wind and solar have barely scratched the surface. Gas has shown us how their dogmatic obsession with wind and solar has led us all down a blind alley.

We must make sure we judge fracking in the UK by the plentiful scientific evidence from the USA and not by the manipulated half truths from the FoE.