Tuesday, 28 July 2015

The Great Grid Scandal

In many cases growth in demand for electricity results in higher power flows on the transmission network. Where the power flows exceed the capability of the Grid, reinforcement is necessary. Demand forecasts are therefore a good indicator of the need for grid investment. A well established relationship exists between economic growth and electricity consumption. The forecast for demand levels in 2025 are based on the Economic and Social Research Institute’s long-term forecast of moderate growth in economic activity [Eirgrid 2009]. 

In a recent radio debate on RTE This Week programme, which can be listened to here, we were told that the Grid 25 programme is still required regardless of renewables. This is quite simply false and mis-informs the public.

The main economic justification behind Grid 25 was the following graph from 2009 when Eamon Ryan was Minister for Energy:


As everyone knows, this level of demand never materialized. In fact, demand went in the opposite direction.

In normal economic projections for projects, if the projections don't materialize, then the project is dropped or at least scaled down. But the entire Grid 25 programme is still being pushed by the establishment and lobby groups. Quite why, I am not sure. Forget the banking enquiry, we desperately need an enquiry into this now.

Billions of euros, high electricity bills and environmental destruction are at stake.

There are other questions which also arise - what happened to our investments in energy efficiency which were supposed to reduce demand ? Does this show that the establishment have secretly thrown energy efficiency out of the window and are only paying lip service to it ? What are the reasons for this ?

Of course, facilitation of wind energy and the government's plan to have the highest electricity bills in Europe is still part of the justification for the grid plans :

Many of the locations suitable for renewable energy generation schemes are in areas where there have been little or no generation developments heretofore. The aggregate of renewable generation capacity in some areas is equivalent to large conventional generation stations and in many cases the network is not capable of carrying the power from these generation sources. Significant reinforcement of the Grid will therefore be required to cater for the new power flows from renewable generation. It will not be possible to utilise Ireland’s natural resources of renewable energy without the essential upgrades outlined in GRID25 [Eirgrid, 2009].
The primary driver for the Grid West project is the connection of new renewable energygeneration planned for the region; specifically projects proposed by Coillte, ESB and Bord naMóna [Eirgrid, 2015

 But this doesn't explain why the following lobby groups have an interest in Grid 25 going ahead :

Chambers Ireland
Enterprise Dublin
Failte Ireland
Institute for Ecology
Irish Congress of Trade Unions
Irish Countrywomen's Association
Irish Environmental Network
Irish Farmers Association
Irish Landscape Institute
National Parks & Wildlife Services
Royal Town Planning Institute

These groups form part of the National Advisory Committee to Eirgrid. Why are these groups pushing the €4 billion euro Grid plans and wind energy, and resisting investment in energy efficiency while ignoring the economic reality since the projections were made in the above graph ?

It seems when it comes to energy, everybody goes silly.


  1. Big day in court 14 to-day. Could not sleep with anticipation of a positive result and fear of a negative one. In 2005 the EU signed the Aarhus Convention on behalf of all member states including Ireland. It was agreed the UNECE Compliance Committee would be the judge of compliance. Under Eamon Ryan's as Energy Minister in a Fianna Fail/ Green government Ireland failed to ratify until 2012. In 2012, the Compliance Committee ruled on a complaint by Pat Swords that Ireland and the EU failed to honour their obligation to ratify it, but also that it failed to give its citizens their rights under the Convention's three pillars in environmental matters.

    1) Public participation in the decision making process.

    2) Access to information.

    3) Access to the courts

    Our government has been given 4 more final months to comply or face been expelled from the UN legal framework and made a pariah among the nations of the world. The status of the Convention is the same as the Geneva Convention, Convention for Elimination of Discrimination Against Women, Convention of Civil and Political rights and the International Convention of Economic and Social rights. The case commended before Ireland's ratification, which I hope will not effect its present status. Many poorer people cannot claim their rights under these conventions, but they made the mistake of educating Pat and a few more of us and we Irish are not afraid of the creeps who want to take our rights away. We will fight them.

    Judge Keane told an earlier court he found it very complex and he took 4 month to name to-day to hand down his judgement. Even I find the law difficult but not impossible to fully understand. There is no doubt the Convention empowers individuals and communities giving them the right to be involved much more than they do at the moment in the rural revolt against useless wind farms, unnecessary pylons and other impacts on our environment. We hold our environment in trust for future generations, no one can say Pat did not play his part. The decision will be highly persuasive on other Irish Courts and hopefully will encourage all Europeans to follow suit. If the judge refuses to grant any of the relief sought, it will mean we have been conned into voting yes to the various EU treaties and are not free citizens entitled to the protection of the law on the environment. I can only quote Pat himself, when I pushed him, last week. “Hopefully we will get something out of it”. Here Here!

  2. Case above adjourned to 13th October 2015. Alive is a catholic monthly newspaper and the July/August edition @ page 16, http://www.alive.ie/uploads/6/5/1/1/6511516/alive!_july_aug_2015.pdf refers to an expert panel to investigate the statistical data underpinning the man made climate change scare. The article is taken from a Telegraph article by Christopher Booker. It appears that there are a number of sets of data from weather recording stations and that two based in the US show strikingly different results to the ones used by governments.. Among its members is Roman Mureika a Canadian expert in statistical methodology. I find it interesting that this is published in a Catholic paper at the same time as Pope Francis issued an opinion that climate change is real. Interesting.

  3. If a random sample of 5,000 Irish people were interviewed and asked 5 basic questions about the science of climatology (including long and short term trends) and asked 5 more questions about the interaction of co2 with other gasses and its effect on climate, plant growth, health and temperature, how many would get all correct and how would they score generally? Very poorly I suspect.
    Climate Change Business Journal estimates the Climate Change Industry is a $1.5 Trillion dollar escapade, which means four billion dollars a day is spent on our quest to change the climate. That includes everything from carbon markets to carbon consulting, carbon sequestration, renewables, biofuels, green buildings and insipid cars. For comparison global retail sales online are worth around $1.5 trillion. So all the money wasted on the climate is equivalent to all the goods bought online.

    The special thing about this industry is that it wouldn’t exist if it weren’t for an assumption about relative humidity that is probably wrong. As such, it’s the only major industry in the world dependent on consumer and voter ignorance. This is not just another vested interest in a political debate; it’s vested-on-steroids, a mere opinion poll away from extinction. You can almost hear the captains of climate industry bellowing: “Keep ‘em ignorant and believing, or the money goes away!”.
    In Ireland, the Taoiseach (Prime Minister) get to call the date of general elections, traditionally there would have been one in June 2015 after 4 tears. But its been pushed to the last week possible, April 2016. In the recent British general election, climate change was mentioned twice in the debate and then only briefly.
    So one of the biggest financial commitments facing voters is unlikely to ever be discussed. It will be kept off the election agenda, out of the way while candidates discuss less expensive policy issues. There never was such a conspiracy of silence, In North Korea and Russia it takes military might, torture, and murder to achieve what is being achieved in the west by invisible means.

  4. Take a look at Eirgrid's dashboard for to day for Ireland only. It was a really windy day this past 24 hours.At all time out wind farms were capable of delivering between 1400 and 1900 mw and more. The price has been below 60 cent for all but an hour, yet the price paid for wind is close to 80 cent. As the wind blows consumers pay more. Note also wind was not allowed exceed 50%, so some was constrained off. Note the strange pattern of imports and exports.

  5. Its now 12.04 am on the 4th August. The wind is very strong, blowing things around, with capacity around 2,300 mw, our wind farms in the Republic of Ireland (Ireland) should be giving 1750 mw. Watch now as the amount of wind allowed into the grid is being constrained off, it can't be used. This proves that the idea of 100% wind can be used is nonsense. How is this type of misinformation allowed out.

  6. According to Eirgrid's dashboard if we take the lowest demand for electricity in the Republic being 4 am this morning August 4th. We were exporting - 284 mw, system demand was 1,899, total generation was 2,322 mw. (less 1,899+284) = 139. That 139 mw is probably transmission losses of 6% which is close to published expectations. Wind was 1,154mw.

    Wind was 49.6% of total generation, 54% of demand (including exports). Exports amount to 15% or 284mw @ 153mw of which is wind and the remaining 130 is back up generation. So while we are indeed exporting renewable electricity to the UK, we are also exporting 130mw in fossil fuel generation. We are importing fossil fuel from abroad (Poland/Russia/UK) to convert to electricity for consumption in the UK. The carbon emissions are added to the Republic's account.

    Moving forward to now, 11.15am approx:

    Subtracting 185 imports, (3,303- 185)= 3,118 wind is on 1,377. 1,377 wind + 185 imports == 1,562 mw which is exactly 50 % (non-sychronous). This confirms that no matter how much more wind capacity we add to our system, we still cannot allow it in above roughly 50%. Exporting will make the cake bigger, 50% of a bigger cake is bigger than 50% or a smaller one, however, half the power going to Britain must be generated from fossil fuel. As co2 intensity is measured by mw generated irrespective of how much we generate, we can see that total co2 emissions must in all cases increase with increased exports. We can also see how the famous Mainstream/Element Power energy Bridge, in which it was proposed to export thousands of mega watts to the UK, (there was talk of 8,000 mw, ) would have increased Ireland's co2 emissions to more than double that at present.

    I accept, we currently import also and the effect is limited by cable capacity, but it shows how close we came to disaster and how lucky we were that the British saw the crazy implications of the memorandum of understanding signed by Pat Rabbitte with such misplaced jingoism. More co2 emissions, using UK gas to generate some of it, damage to the environment, tourism, fauna and flora. Hard to think or a greater threat to Ireland since that of nuclear annihilation in 1963. It was a close call.

  7. Sean O'Dubhlaoigh4 August 2015 at 13:05

    Eirgrid in their assumptions as to how many extra megawatts are needed ,to get the 37% target for wind penetration, assume a 31% capacity factor and a low level of curtailment. In 2010 Ireland had a capacity factor of 23.8% and as wind turbines age output drops by up to 50% each years. Eirgrids assumptions as to how much wind electricity to be distributed, on Grid 25, are likely to be greatly in excess of what is likely to be available. Not only declining on an annual basis once they stop adding the capacity ,that they assume will get the 37% wind market penetration target , there will be a sharpe decline in output. As wind turbines begin to disintegrate becoming uneconomic to operate from year 10 or so. An observation made by German economist, Dr Lion Hirt, that the value of wind generated electricity falls by 40% as wind penetration gets to 30% of the total market. Adding wind capacity cannibalizes the income of older wind farms making them uneconomic. So Eirgrid will be distributing smaller then assumed quantities of low value wind generated electricity. As Grid 25 will last 40 years or so and as wind farms cannibalize their own income eliminating their profitability. Who is going to replace, up to 4 times, the highly capital intensive and low profit wind generation to enable Eirgrid to recover their €3.9 billion investment To justify these investments and enable Eirgrid recover their investment wind subsidies will at least need to be doubled. Which will collapse demand.So we are back to square one having the capacity installed but a smaller market to sell it in. When is this idiocy going to end

  8. This is an extract from the Daily Mail of August 4th.

    "-----Savers who put cash into a risky energy retail bond have been told they face a delay getting their money back. Renewable energy firm Wind Prospect is withholding payments on its so-called mini bond for three months.
    It blamed a ‘sustained attack’ by the Government after it was announced in the Budget that subsidies to renewable energy farms would be cut. As a result, Wind Prospect has said it needs to restructure.

    A retail bond is a way of firms to raise money to expand or pay off debt. These mini-bonds are unregulated investments, not listed on the stock exchange.
    Savers lent money to Wind Prospect in 2011. They agreed to tie up a minimum of £500 for four years and were promised 7.5 per cent interest a year plus their original sum back at the end.------" end of quote

    Sean's contribution above looks at this from another angle. Leaving aside all the debates, if wind investors are to get their money back, the wind has to blow. Investments are made on revenue expectations, and the only guide is Eirgrid's totally unfounded factors above 30%, My findings and that of Professor Gordon Hughes of Edinburgh University find and average of 24.05%. Mine is 24.1% varying about 2% max. Add in the fact that a turbine contains a step up gear box of a ratio of about 1,700 to 1, and output declines as components age. (Imagine if a Nissan Micra car) (no fuel) was put in 1st gear and towed around the roads for hundreds of miles. The transmission would fail from the enormous pressures as the road wheels try to drive the engine at a much higher speed). This happens with all step-up gear trains except very light slow ones incapable of generating heat i.e clocks. So the income will fall off and shareholders can't be paid. Higher subsidies are the only solution. Looks like an industry on steroids. As for the question "when will this idiocy end"? I think that will be when a) when all other EU countries follow Britain's Australia's example, or b) In Ireland when the public realise the truth and shun green politicians http://www.dailymail.co.uk/money/investing/article-3185321/Wind-investors-told-wait-delayed-bond-payout-sustained-attack-Government.html

    Read more: http://www.thisismoney.co.uk/money/investing/article-3185321/Wind-investors-told-wait-delayed-bond-payout-sustained-attack-Government.html#ixzz3hw0JCZX2
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  9. In reply to Sean, it is a very difficult question to answer "when will this idiocy end?" New onshore wind is over in mainland Britain from next year and a recent Australian Senate report recommends a review which is believed will result in a reduction in subsidies. Politicians and many voters are slow learners. One ace for political parties at election time is to be able to promise reductions in the usual taxes, VAT, income tax etc. To do this they need an alternative source of revenue. That revenue must be from a good or service which economists label "inelastic" . Examples would be cigarettes for smokers, alcoholic drinks, child's nappies, road fuel, passport application fees and of course electricity. There must also be another quality to it, ----there must be no easy available substitutes.---- Cavan wind farms paid 500,000 euros in rates last year, relieving the burden from the state and commercial rates. Commercial rates closed several businesses round here. A collector calls every Thursday. An ever expanding electrical generation capacity, all receiving payments from consumers results in more VAT, commercial rates, corporation tax and other revenue for the state and allows any party which can assess this to get elected at the next election. It a trick of the trade and every Irish political party is in on it. A senior figure in Sinn Fein told me that one sure way for his party to loose votes is to say anything negative about climate change or anything negative about renewable energy. Sinn Fein believes in this and will capitalise on it, the rest will do the same. To answer Sean's question we need to know the capacity of voters to notice they are been made fools of. But even if they do notice, there is no party prepared to change its policy, why ? A lot of brain washing has happened with the collusion of the media. Green policy coststhe world 1.5 trillion dollars per year. I reckon it will be impossible to keep that kind of spending off the political debate in the long term. Green issues were mentioned only twice in the British election debate, yet is is a major cost, I would look to America. There everything goes and it could feature in the political debate running up the the presidential election. If it does not, then industry will flee Ireland for better places. It connot be sidestepped in the long term. Every indication now is that Britain will frack and steer away for renewables, if so, Britain is an obvious location for Irish manufacturing industry to move to, The law is the same, the work practices are the same and its handy. Poland has already stolen Cadurys. When the Irish people can fall for wind energy, they can fall for anything. The effect can be seen in more ways than one, a huge cost to electricity companies is employing staff to ring up late payers. The answer to that is a pre pay meter, the power goes off in while cooking the dinner. That might concentrate minds.