Saturday, 14 December 2019

Climate Change in the 1840s

The following is an extract from a book called "The Industrial Resources of Ireland" written in the 19th century. It describes flooding that took place in Lough Derg over a few weeks in the winter of 1840:

The water levels of Lough Derg effectively increased by about 25% or a quarter over a month. The current rate of water level changes there are only about 2-3% :

Also, interesting to note that by the 1840s, the cycle of winter flooding followed by droughts in summer was a well recognised problem in Ireland.

Saturday, 23 November 2019

Greencoat Wind Farms Part 2 - Lisdowney

Lisdowney Wind Farm in Co.Kilkenny was purchased by Greencoat Renewables in 2017. At that time, it was making losses. The latest accounts filed are showing profits of € 345,000 for 10 months or about € 400,000 for the year 2018. Whilst this looks more promising, the wind farm's debts still stands at € 13 million which means it will take another 32 years to pay off. Since the wind farm has been operating for about four years, the likelihood is that it will continue to operate for another 10-15 years, when at that stage it will need further capital investment to extend it's useful life.

Monday, 4 November 2019

Storm Lorenzo was only a gust compared to Storm Ulysses in 1903

James Joyce's classic novel Ulysses was based in Dublin in the year 1904. In the Aeolus chapter, a severe weather event is mentioned :

Lady Dudley was walking home through the park to see all the trees that were blown down by that cyclone last year.

In Don Gifford's 1974 book, Notes for Joyce, it is explained that this refers to one of the most severe gales in Dublin's history and was compared at the time to that of 1839 (the night of the big wind). The gale caused great damage to property and particularly to trees in Phoenix Park. It is estimated that between 1000-3000 trees were uprooted in the park. In parts of the country it was reported that whole woods were leveled.

A cyclone that could bring down so many trees in Dublin would be seen as a catastrophic event today, and final proof of man made climate change / the end of the world. But we don't get storms that have this much force anymore, they are a thing of the past. Historic climatic events such as in 1839 and 1903 show that the climate, if anything, has actually improved in Ireland.

Sunday, 20 October 2019

Greencoat Wind Farms Part 1 - Gortahile

Greencoat Renewables recently purchased Gortahile wind farm in Co. Laois for an undisclosed sum from a Dutch owned company Glennmont Clean Energy. It has been operating for about eight years and has a capacity of 20MW. It was originally built by German company ABO Wind, then sold to a Danish green fund, then repurchased by ABO for €42 million in 2010. It was also apparently owned by a French company at some stage. It is now back in Irish hands.

It's accounts for last year show it made a profit of € 288k but with gains on financial instruments, comprising interest rate swaps, making up about 45% of these profits. Like depreciation, these financial instruments are non cash items. To get a better look at the financial position of the wind farm, one needs to look at the cash flow statement.

The actual cash generated after paying interest was €1.5 million. The company repaid borrowers to the tune of € 2 million and so incurred a cash deficit of about half a million euros. However, they still showed total cash assets of € 2 million thanks to the waiver of a  € 3.6 million  parent company loan in 2017.

The wind farm's short term liabilities exceeded its short term assets by € 90k, which means it was unable to meet it's debts as they fell due.  The Dutch parent company had vouched it's willingness to provide enough income to keep the wind farm in operation till 2019. At the end of last year, it had combined losses of €2.3 million and debts of over € 18 million.

Will Greencoat need to prop up the wind farm with more cash? It remains a bit of a mystery why a wind farm in such difficulties has generated so many buyers but perhaps it's telling that the recent price tag was not disclosed.

Monday, 23 September 2019

ESB Profits show that Wind Energy has not Reduced Reliance on Fossil Fuels

ESB operate most of the fossil fuel powered generators in Ireland. Their gas, peat and coal generating plants amount to about 3,400 MW. Hydro about 400MW and wind about 450MW. So about 80% of their generation is from fossil fuel sources.

Given that Ireland now has in total about 3,500MW of wind, we should, if the wind energy supporters are right, see wind energy eroding profits in ESB generation.

But their latest results show that their Generation and Trading business has increased it's profits by    € 26 million to € 70 million. Although there was lower running in Moneypoint, this was more than offset by a higher margin in gas plants

A breakdown of this profit is not given, but we can safely assume that most of it came from fossil fuel generation since that comprises 80% of their business as I have shown above. It is indicative that during the same period, there was an impairment charge (i.e. a write down) of €1.8 million for a wind farm.

So almost a decade on from Ireland's Renewable Energy Action Plan which stated that :

Renewable energy reduces dependence on fossil fuels, improves security of supply, and reduces greenhouse gas emissions creating environmental benefits while delivering green jobs to the economy, thus contributing to national competitiveness. 

 we can now see that wind energy does not reduce dependence on fossil fuels, rather, it maintains dependence on it.

Sunday, 22 September 2019

The Motor Industry is Unsustainable because of Debt

Gross new lending for car purchase was €2.1 billion over the past twelve months, the largest amount of new lending recorded since the series began. Non-PCP hire purchase agreements were the main driver of the increase in new lending
- The Central Bank of Ireland, August 2019

The number of motor cars could be reduced, if the Government really wanted to do it, by capping car loans for petrol and diesel vehicles. 

Instead, they prefer the more trendy and coffers-friendly solution of carbon taxes. 

Saturday, 29 June 2019

Double Standards in new Trade Deal

Climate Change was the number one issue in the recent European Elections here in Ireland. Within a few weeks of the results however, the EU and South America signed a new trade deal that will increase global emissions and put more pressure on Brazil's rainforests.

The deal will allow 100,000 tonnes of beef to be exported across 4,000 miles to the EU increasing shipping emissions. More rainforests will need to be cleared to meet this demand, putting EU priorities at odds with the environmental significance attached to these forests.

The farming lobby are now starting to see through the duplicitous nature of the EU. Perhaps this is the beginning of a much needed examination of Ireland's relationship with the EU and the climate agenda that drives much of Irish politics.
I do not think they will take the Paris Climate Accord seriously at all. They will do whatever suits themselves. Once this deal is over the line, we will pay the consequences for that beef coming in.
It goes to show you the double standards, the double speak that they would allow that volume of beef come in. There is already almost close to 300,000t coming in already and you hear stories about rainforests cut down week on week to facilitate more agricultural production in Brazil.
If they were serious about climate change, they would have found some other way around it other than bringing in that volume of beef. [Farmers Journal].