Renewables, Drax and Myth Busting No 1



It appears Drax wish to bust some myths about renewable energy (see HERE) They are tweeting about them one by one. So I thought I'd have a go too and dig under the headlines at least for the first so-called "myth" they wish to bust: Here it is.

The First "Myth" they want to bust is...

"Myth 1 — Renewables are unpredictable"

[quote]
There’s more to renewables than solar panels and wind turbines. Tidal power is much more predictable than either, and geothermal power — using heat from the Earth’s core to generate electricity — is almost completely reliable.
As for predictability, sustainable biomass uses compressed wood pellets to generate electricity whenever it is needed. It’s completely predictable. You can use it to produce electricity on demand, to control frequency in a split-second or for baseload power. It’s as reliable as coal or gas, but with a fraction of the carbon emissions.
[unquote]

Yes it is true! There is more to renewables than wind and solar (both of which are hopelessly intermittent)

It is also true tidal power is more predictable and geothermal is reliable too! And that Biomass can provide baseload.  But we still have some problems here. So let us look at these predictable and reliable examples of RE goodness.

Tidal

Sadly in the UK we have barely any tidal power at all. That is because in most places tidal power is simply unfeasible. Consequently little is planned and even this is horrendously expensive and arguably technically dubious.

To cap it all the maximum that could be generated by tidal is 12% of demand. But anyone who believes we could get anywhere near 12% is really living in the world of Tooth Fairies and Easter Bunnies. (h/t to  Dr Jim Hansen HERE)

But lets look at what Tidal there is and what is planned/proposed

MayGen

In Scotland there is a tidal stream scheme (MayGen - HERE). Currently it has a maximum capacity of 6MW ( similar output to that from a single locomotive engine) But the dream is to expand this to is a maximum capacity of 398MW. Either way its capacity factor will be around 20%. (So averaged output power will be about 1.2MW/80MW)

There is a big incentive to build the dream. Tidal Stream generation is the only type of generation that makes offshore wind look cheap.

MayGen will be paid no less than 5 ROCs subsidy (or £225) per MWh. This means that typically they will be paid £260 per MWh whereas normal generators (gas/nuclear) get paid about £43 per MWh.

To be fair MayGen is verging on experimental. It is the very tip of the state of the art.

We know Tidal Stream power may be predictable. But is it viable? Or affordable? I'll leave you to decide.

But one thing is certain: It ain't going to be the golden bullet to save intermittent RE anytime soon.

Swansea bay Tidal Lagoon

Then there is the proposed Swansea Tidal lagoon. This will have a (very, very) brief maximum output of 320MW. But its capacity factor will be less than 20%. Averaged over a year its output power will equate to approximately 60MW. The estimated cost of building this thing is £1.3 Billion (Ouch!).

That is about the same cost as building a 1.2GW (i.e. 20x the output) CCGT gas plant.

Compared to the Scottish tidal stream scheme though, the Swansea lagoon will be cheap with only 1.8 ROCs subsidy per MWh. It will be only 3 times the cost of normal generators.

Again. Predictable it may be. Affordable? Viable? Or even environmentally benign? You decide.

(Euan Mearns did a wonderfully complete analysis of the Swansea Tidal Lagoon  HERE.)

Geothermal

Just like Tidal power, in the UK we have little to no geothermal power generation.

In fact the UK is geologically a bad place for geothermal energy. True - we can tap shallow underground heat for heat pumps and space heating but electricity generation? Really?

As far as I can tell the prospect for any significant geothermal power generation in the UK is Nil.

End of.

Biomass

Then we come to the meat and potatoes of the Drax myth busting. Their glorious Biomass.

Happily I have to say that just about everything they say is true. I (sort of) believe them in their sustainablity claims as well. But there are problems.

But first - a pedantic point:
---------------------------------
[quote]
.....It’s as reliable as coal or gas, but with a fraction of the carbon emissions.
[unquote]

DON'T BE SILLY! Of course burning biomass emits Carbon Dioxide and MWh for MWh virtually the same as coal!! The fact that you offset that by replanting does not mean that magically no Carbon Dioxide or pollutants get emitted when you burn wood pellets! You could equally offset coal by planting trees - you just can't use the same space.
----------------------------------------

But back to what I see as a major problem with biomass.

Bear in mind to simply maintain the current Drax 2GW generation in a sustainable manner will require an immense 12000 sq Km of forest. (Wikipedia HERE)

How much more biomass can we (morally or practically) import from abroad?

I don't know.

But I would suspect that we are already at the limits of sustainably maintaining a supply of wood to the existing Drax wood burning plant.

So there you go. If you want non-intermittent RE in the UK, in reality you've got Biomass.

But how much more Biomass can we build before we start seriously damaging the environment?

Anyone who knows the answer to that one please tell me.

I'd love to know.






Why Microsoft Shares the Blame for the Cyber Attack.

Many folk have poured derision on people/business's still using Windows XP. After all, general support for XP was discontinued three years ago. Some further support was available to large organisations but essentially the operating system was abandoned by Microsoft in 2014. So,
many would say it would be foolish to continue with XP and anyone still using it deserved to get caught by this criminality.



Yet there is another story here.

Windows XP came out in 2001 and was initially truly awful. Yet over the following 13 years bugs were fixed and back doors closed. By 2010 Windows XP had hardened and was ( and still should be ) a robust and bug free operating system. XP has many applications far beyond mere desktop and laptop PCs. It is also extensively used for equipment control.

As an example, I understand that one of the problems that hit the NHS was the crippling of some body scanners that had Windows XP integrated into their design.

Microsoft abandoned XP because they wanted to force people to buy their later operating systems and associated products.  They ignored the fact that many could not afford the change (which usually required a hardware switch as well).

But as well as poorer desktop/laptop users, many companies/organisations simply could not move long established and complex equipment to a new operating system.

Microsoft could have easily offered (and profited from) an annual support fee of (say) $5 per machine. Bear in mind that after 16 years since it was launched, the code base in XP was hardened and reliable. New patches would be far fewer than with a new product. Code maintenance would require a smaller team. They would be working on an known and well established code base.  

But No. Microsoft decided to walk away.

Microsoft's action to stop publishing updates/bug fixes was both immoral and irresponsible.

In my opinion, if you produce a product on which people lives and livelihoods depend, irrespective of whether it is hardware or software you have a moral obligation to offer support for that product for more than a mere 6 years after it becomes obsolescent.

It appears Microsoft have now relented and produced a new security patch for XP (I wont comment on Horses and when to bolt gates). I hope they now realise the foolhardiness of their abandonment and step up to their responsibilities by re-instigating support for XP.

AS for the scum-bags who used this exploit I do hope they are caught and go to jail for very many years, or catch a bullet. Preferably the latter.


An Expensive day in April.


The 30th April 2017 was a Bank Holiday Sunday in the UK and consequently the use of electricity was very low.

By chance it is also a Goldilocks day for wind and solar. Not too much wind but windy enough to provide a high output. The icing on the cake was that the wind speed was pretty constant across the day. Solar meanwhile has a nice day too with cloudless skies.

The day has been lauded far and wide as the day the UK was supplied with more power by renewables than by all other sources combined. When averaged over the day, the subsidised renewables (wind, solar and biomass) contributed 41% of the total energy used.

I wondered how much this Goldilocks day cost the UK taxpayer in subsidies.

The Electric insights website (Here) gives us a lot of information.

Here is a snapshot of the full day of generation from 30th April.



Knowing a few of the details of the subsidy regimes and the average generation per technology over the day we can get a rough idea of how much this golidlocks day cost, both for actual electricity generated and for wind, solar and biomass subsidies.

All of existing RE generation (bar the shouting) is subsidised by the Renewables Obligation (RO) or for smaller generators by the Feed In Tariff (FiT). CfD's (contracts for difference) are yet to apply to operational generators, but they are unlikely to reduce the total cost by much (if anything).

Bear in mind  RO and FiT subsidies are NOT the full price. The fullprice is (subsidy + selling price).

Currently one ROC is worth £45.58

Interestingly the RO for ground level solar (1.2 ROC/MWh) is almost the same as the latest total FiT price (generation + export) for small arrays.  Which means I will assume all solar gets the same subsidy of 1.2 ROCs/MWh (actually this is an significant underestimate of the subsidy due to a number of reasons - but I'll use this to err on the side of caution with this rough calculation)

Large scale wind has two separate ROC subsidies - one for onshore (0.9 ROCs/MWh) and one for offshore(1.8 ROCs/MWh). Offshore is far more productive per turbine than onshore while there are more onshore turbines than offshore. So a happy medium is to place the average ROC subsidy at 1.35 per MWh( (onshore + offshore)/2)

There is also some embedded wind which is subject to the FiT scheme. But per MWh this works out at approximately the same level of subsidy as our average for on-shore and off-shore.

Roughly working out the subsidy per technology for this single Goldilocks day:

Wind. 
The average power output over the day for wind was 8.8GW So the total energy generated was (8.8 x 24) just over 210GWh. Our subsidy  per MWh is (1.35 x £45.58) or £61.53 per MWh. So the subsidy on 210GWH amounts to £12,921930.

That is (as near as dammit) £13 million for the day

Solar.
Obviously solar only works during daylight so although there was a glut at midday of around 5GW, when averaged over the day the output was a more modest 1.5GW or 36GWh. The subsidy cost is 1.2 ROCs per MWh.

That comes out roughly £2 million for the day.

Biomass
Biomass power averaged 1.4GW over the day producing 33GWh of energy. Biomass gets one ROC per MWh.

The subsidy for this single day was just over £1.5 million.

So the total subsidy was £16.5 million.

How does this compare with the total generation cost?

Now the average payment (ex-subsidy) for all generators over the day was £32.43 per MWh and the average total power was 28.4GW.  So the total cost (ex subsidy) for all the electricity generated (28.4 x 24 x 32.43) was about £22 million

Bear in mind that my back-of-a-fag-packet subsidy calculation of £16.5 million uses the latest (and smallest) FiT rates.

It is pretty clear that when you include the hidden ROC and FiT subsidies this single day of 41% penetration by Wind, Solar and Biomass came close to doubling the wholesale price of electricity.

Yet on this sunny, windy, and expensive day in April, there was also an elephant in the room.

It is an elephant whose name environmentalists dare not speak. An elephant that is shunned, ignored or pilloried.

That elephant is the UK's existing nuclear power fleet.

One that April day it continuously provided about 25% of our power or 7.3GW. It does this day in day out 24/7. Not just when there is a Goldilocks day.

There were no emissions and for existing nuclear, there are no subsidies.





2017 - Its Getting Better! (...So Get Over It )

By just about any metric you want to measure it by, the prospects for humanity both now and in the future are improving and at an increasing rate.

But what about the population bomb? Global warming? ISIL? Pollution and all the other terrors and demons waiting for us all?

Well here's some facts rather than the self serving doom-laden propaganda that gets disseminated by the likes of Greenpeace, FOE and WWF.

Global life expectancy is now....70. Whereas most people think it is stuck at about 40.

How many kids do families typically have in (say) Bangladesh? 4? 6? 8?

No. It's now actually 2.5.

In fact the world went through "peak child" around 2000. Peak child means that the population of 16-24 year old is now stationary at about 2 Billion.

The world population is though still going up. That is because due to better health care, plentiful energy and a better diet people are living longer. But because the 18 - 24 year old are stationary at 2 Billion it means that the peak of the world population is in sight.

The world population will stabilize at about 11 billion within the next 70 years.

What about disasters? Remember the hysteria over Fukushima? Remember the smirking doomsters predicting death tolls of  hundreds of thousands? Possibly millions?

Yet in fact, NOBODY died from the Fukushima melt-downs - except for those poor souls were scared half to death by scientifically illiterate fear-mongers who had them forcibly evacuated.

Global Warming? True - we should not be complacent but even hurricanes are now at an all time low. The North Pole ice cap is still there, no doubt much to the chagrin of Al Gore. Sea levels are yet to show an increase.

Pollution? We are getting a grip. The incredible stupidity of promoting diesel cars has hit the buffers and just about everybody realizes how polluting coal is. Though bizarrely the grip is loosening in those countries piously parading their "Greenery". Germany continues to build new coal plant
while closing nuclear. But even then, nuclear is taking off in style all around the world. The West are the laggards, which is dissapointing.(A bit like having your football team in the relegation zone).

On the down side we continue to squander resources on junk energy like wind and solar. They have their niches but that's all. But people are getting wise to the snake oil salesmen who promise the world and provide little. Lets hope a few more of them get a good financial kicking in 2017.

Bigotry and pedantic religious dogma have also taken a beating. Mainly because world literacy now stands at well over 80%.

Education and better health care now mean that women are steadily overcoming the dogma and prejudices that have shackled them in the past. The education genie is out of the bottle. Much as the likes of ISIL and their ilk would want to put it back in - it ain't going to fit. Women are taking their rightful place at the centre of human progress.

Even Donald Trump and Brexit show how advanced nations are throwing off self serving elitist cliques. Now we just need to ensure we don't build new ones!

No doubt this is all disappointing stuff for the doom mongers - those who love to see the glass half empty - and full of poison. For them realism is now the enemy,

Today realism shows us things really are getting better.

True there are lots of things that still need fixing. Lots of wrongs that need righting.

But hey its the new year - let's be optimistic and crack on. Let the doom mongers stew.

Happy New Year!

Why the Young Don't Vote

Ever since I wrote about the poor turn out of 18-25 year old voters in the Eu Referendum (See THIS POST Here) and showed that 64% of the 18-24 age group failed to vote I've been thinking about why the young are so unlikely to vote. I started following the usual mantra that this non-voting was simply a form of laziness or a symptom of societal dislocation of some sort.

But maybe it is simpler than that, and more honourable too.

What if the young, recognising their lack of life experience, are simply abstaining and letting the older and (maybe) wiser councils of their elders make the decision?

Maybe we should even encourage people to abstain. Or more properly, we should encourage people to give proper consideration of the presented arguments before voting. If that consideration results in the voter coming to the conclusion that they really do not know which way to vote then abstention is a proper and considered response.

Vilifying the young for not voting is no answer. Instead of raging about their lack of respect for democracy we should be encouraging the young (and non-voters in general) to become better informed.

Forcing young people to dive headlong into electoral decision making to which they are ill-equipped is a bad idea. Why not wait for them to get a little more life experience first? Then they may be more capable of registering a meaningful vote.

So be nice to that young and spotty non-voter. Their abstention may not be not due to a lack of interest but due to a lack of experience.


Wind Power - A Rising Capacity Factor. Really?

The Capacity Factor (or annual fraction of maximum output achieved) has come to dominate the credibility of wind power schemes. The wind industry vigorously promotes the idea that the Capacity Factor (or CF) is rising. They eulogize wind power as an improving and developing technology. 

CF  has become the de facto metric by which energy generation is measured by. So a wind turbine system displaying a rising CF would undermine the growing view that wind is actually a moribund and subsidy addicted dead end. 

So there is a lot to play for by the wind turbine aficionados. Especially as today if you look at UK offshore wind turbine data it does look like the CF for later offshore wind farms in the UK is going up.

So is this due to an improving dynamic and forward looking technology?

Or is there something else going on here? Is this simply a “fix” - a manipulated figure. More smoke and mirrors to defend a stagnating technology?

While many factors ultimately determine the output of a wind turbine, the maximum output from a wind turbine is mostly determined by the the diameter of its rotor, the hub height and its location.

Yet the published Maximum Capacity (and so the calculated CF) of a wind turbine is determined from the size of the generator NOT from size of the rotor. Yet in reality the size of the attached generator is really a secondary limiter. It is rarely (if ever) run at maximum output and so makes little or no difference to the actual generation capability of the turbine.

The generator spends almost all of its life being driven at one fifth to one third of its maximum output. With this level of headroom, the CF is wide open to manipulation. It can easily be increased by reducing the relative size of the generator to the turbine swept area so that the smaller generator is driven harder and so shows a higher CF without actually increasing annual output. (In fact if you decrease the generator size too far you may push up the CF yet reduce the total energy output over the year.)

So is this happening to UK offshore wind? Are newer turbines being de-rated to increase the CF which will create the illusion that the technology is advancing? Has the Wind Industry any other potential motives as well?

It appears so.

Take the Walney Offshore Wind Park run by Dong Energy in the UK.

Walney consists of two phases. Walney One was commissioned in 2011 and Walney Two was finally commissioned in 2012. Both are now fully operational.

Walney One and Walney Two have 51 turbines each. All the turbines are rated at 3.6MW Maximum Capacity. But the turbine models are different.

Walney One uses Siemens SWT-3.6-107 turbines. These are 137m high, with a swept area of 9000m2 which gives a area/power density of 2.4 square meters per KW

The second tranche Walney Two uses Siemens SWT-3.6-120 turbines. These are 150m high, have a swept area of 11,300 square meters and a area/power density of 3.14 square meters per KW.

Essentially, while they both have the same size generators, Walney Two has bigger turbines.

Unsurprisingly, Walney Two has declared a higher capacity factor than Walney One. But given the quite large difference on swept area, the difference in CF is strangely small.

While the area power density differs by 30% the CF in the last year differs by less than 5%

If you normalize the turbine generator size on the area/power density of the Walney One turbines, (i.e so Walney Two would have an area/power density of 2.4 sqm/KW) then the Walney Two turbines should be rated and fitted with at least a  4.7MW generator.

If this was the size of generator attached to the Walney Two turbines then the capacity factor for last year (based on the 4.7MW generator size) for Walney Two actually decreases to a lowly 34%.

So then you have to ask: Why are these bigger turbines at Walney Two (in reality) being worked significantly less hard than their Walney One cousins? Why are they trading down the magnitude of the increased Capacity Factor?

Here I believe we have the second hidden agenda item associated with de-rating these turbines.

There have been long term and apparently intractable generic reliability problems with offshore wind turbines especially when under significant load. (see earlier post Here) So the trick to making your turbines avoid (example) catastrophic and immensely expensive gear box failure is to de-rate them and run them as far below their capability as is economically and practically possible. Even though the operator is paid around £150 per MWh, losing a gearbox will make a big dent in their profitability.

So for the wind industry, quietly fitting smaller generators to your turbines is a win-win. It falsely promotes the impression that turbine capacity factor has magically increased, while at the same time allowing them to de-rate these larger turbines and run them less hard so reducing costly repair and maintenance.

What this highlights is that the “maximum capacity” (based on generator size) as promoted by the wind industry is actually a fictitious value and bears little relationship to turbine capability or size. Calculating the effectiveness of wind turbines on this false flag is disingenuous.

So next time you hear some pro-wind zealot breathlessly announce that capacity factors are going up to 50% (and beyond) just ask them what the area/power value for this wondrous advance in turbine design is. I suspect they will look at you blankly.


Tell them that if they want to prove wind turbine capacity factor is significantly improving they need to compare LIKE with LIKE. But warn them, that if they do actually compare like with like, their magical improvements will most likely completely disappear. If not go backwards.

Fracking: Will it Ruin my Locality?

There is an enormous amount of controversy surrounding fracking and/or conventional oil and gas extraction in the UK. Groups of "Frackavists" paint lurid images of corrupted aquifers, poisoned rivers and vast environmental damage.

Along with that come the other scare stories. Rumours abound of potentially collapsing house prices and ugly scenery-scarring derricks. These scare stories do have an effect and many people develop a negative opinion about gas/oil extraction, especially in their locality.

But are these stories true?

We could look to the USA that has been massively exploiting shale gas for close on to twenty years. But we do not need to. We can look to our own (long term) experiences with on-shore oil/gas exploration and exploitation.

Most people do not actually realise that the UK has a large on-shore oil/gas field and that it has been exploited for nigh on forty years. This oil/gas field is known as Wytch Farm. Wytch Farm is by far the biggest on-shore oil/gas field within Northern Europe. Its production hub sits within Poole Harbour in Dorset. Wytch farm has over 100 oil/gas wells. Currently the site is owned by Perenco Ltd. Prior to Perenco's take over of the site a few years ago, the site was run and managed by BP.

Looking down from Purbeck  across to Poole Harbour. Below is the largest on-shore oil/gas field in Northern Europe with over 100 wells. Can you see any?


Wytch Farm sits within one of the most environmentally sensitive areas in the World, laying on the edge of the World Heritage Jurassic Coast. The main operational centre is on a small island in the heart of Poole Harbour and sits about one mile (and in direct line of sight) from the area known as Sandbanks. Sandbanks is the second most expensive area in the world for residential property. If you wanted to buy one of the properties nearest Wytch Farm you would be lucky to get any change out of £10 million.

Wytch Farm is a large industrial complex yet it is so unobtrusive and environmentally benign that most local people simply do not know it exists.

But what about fracking?

Fracking is usually associated with horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing of the well hole. 

Wytch Farm was one of the world's pioneers in the development of horizontal drilling. Some of the many wells that radiate out from the operational hub of Furzey island within Poole Harbour stretch out for up to 10 km. Most of the production wells running out from Wytch Farm have been “optimised” (i.e. fractured) using a technique known as water flooding. This technique (I believe) uses the weight of the water column in the well to cause the hydraulic fracturing in the horizontal well at the bottom

So Wytch Farm is an extremely good guide for how new oil/gas exploration/exploitation (including fracking) affects the local area.

Particularly for Wytch Farm we can state:

  • Wytch Farm has not damaged an area of outstanding natural beauty.
  • Wytch Farm has had minimal impact on the environment.
  • Wytch farm has provided many good quality jobs for local people.
  • Wytch Farm has invested heavily in the locality and in environmental protection.
  • Wytch farm has reduced UK dependence on foreign oil and gas.
  • Wytch Farm clearly has had no affect on property prices.


Wytch Farm, as far as local residents are concerned is virtually invisible. Occasionally when a new well is being drilled, a derrick pops up for a short while but is soon gone. If Wytch Farm were to badly affect the local area does anyone seriously believe that the likes of Harry Redknap (whose house is arguably the closest to Wytch farm) would pay millions to live there?

So how would new oil/gas exploration/exploitation in the UK affect Global Warming and Air Pollution.

The first and most obvious fact is that whether or not any new oil/gas fields are developed in the UK the number of fossil fuelled cars/trucks on our roads will be totally unaffected. As will their emissions. All that would happen is that the shortfall from UK production would be made up by importing oil/gas from international suppliers.

Crucially, this imported oil/gas would have to be shipped here.

One little known fact is that the fifteen largest ships in the world (mostly oil tankers) actually pump out more Sulphur Dioxide and particulate matter than all the cars on All the roads in ALL the world.

For the UK, all noxious emissions from cars are matched by a single supertanker.

By simply producing oil locally and so reducing the use of large oil tankers there would be a reduction in Sulphur Dioxide pollution and other noxious large ship emissions.

Keeping it in the ground is a wonderful slogan, but really, unless and until there is a valid replacement for oil based fossil fuel used for transport, it is better and more environmentally responsible to use local supplies rather than remote and uncontrolled foreign supplies.

So, if there is the prospect of an oil/gas development close to you, ask those who are telling you the lurid tales of doom and desolation what they think about Wytch Farm.

Ask them why should any new development be any different from Wytch Farm.

Of course you will probably find that they have never even heard of Wytch Farm in Dorset let alone know it is the biggest oil/gas field in Northern Europe.

Just in case you think I am indulging in the Frackavist diseases of selective quotation and open deceit – here's a few links that may further enlighten you.

Wytch Farm:





Large Ship Pollution:




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:

"...one 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?

Hardly.

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.

Love

Billothewisp

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"?

Hardly.

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.

Valéry 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.