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].   

Tuesday, 25 June 2019

Air Travel Gets a Free Pass

Air Travel only gets a couple of mentions in the Government's latest Climate Plan where the aim is to offset emissions from air travel through the purchase of carbon credits. The main focus of the plan is on electric vehicles with legislation to be introduced to ban the sale of fossil fuel cars from 2030.

Meanwhile, on the same week that the Climate Plan was announced, the Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar travelled to Brussels to obtain a €350 million loan from the European Investment Bank for investment in Dublin Airport - to facilitate European and global travel in the future.  

 It is perhaps one of the most astonishing cases of cognitive dissonance in Irish political history. Or it indicates that the European Union and the Irish government are not actually concerned about (or believe in) climate change except when it suits their own agendas.


Image result for air travel motor emissions

Monday, 17 June 2019

Spending Overruns Undermine Emissions Targets


The European Court of Auditors expect that many EU countries, including Ireland, will not meet their 2020 targets for the share of total energy from renewables :


  • six Member States are unlikely to meet their 2020 target as they need an increase in the share from renewables by: the Netherlands 7.4 pp, France 6.7 pp, Ireland 5.3 pp, the United Kingdom 4.8 pp, Luxembourg 4.6 pp and Poland 4.1 pp.  

  •   the Netherlands shows the largest gap, with an actual average share of 5.9% for 2015/2016, versus an indicative RED trajectory of 7.6%. The gap to the planned NREAP share of 9.7% renewable energy in 2016 is even larger. 

    •  for 11 Member States (Belgium, Cyprus France, Greece, Ireland, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal and the United Kingdom), currently implemented renewable energy policies and already planned renewable energy policy initiatives appear today to be insufficient to trigger the required renewable energy volumes purely domestically. 

    • In addition, for 7 Member States (Austria, Germany, Latvia, Romania, Slovenia, Slovakia and Spain) there is some uncertainty related to 2020 renewable energy target achievement. Their capability of meeting their 2020 national binding targets will to a great extend depend on the levels of energy demand in case there would be a large increase in energy demand that brings their energy consumption back in line with the original trend indicated by the latest EU reference scenario.   

This should be seen as a serious indictment of Ireland's wind only policy which has completely failed to reduce emissions at any meaningful level. The idea that the EU will fine every one of these countries, that are also unlikely to meet their targets, now seems increasingly unlikely, as the widespread impracticality of the targets becomes manifest.

Ireland has already spent €86 million in buying carbon credits to offset it's high emissions with the cost potentially running to billions over the next decade. As with health and foreign aid policy (in fact every policy), Ireland's answer is always to spend more (taxpayers) money instead of doing some actual analysis to uncover the root cause of the problem.


Sustainable Economics is a Sustainable Environment


The simple fact, as this blog has pointed out previously, is that the more the government spend, the higher the emissions. Higher welfare spending, for example, results in more resources consumed beyond our means, more imported goods, higher immigration and more waste material like plastics. High government and private debt also encourages more wasteful spending.

A policy that would encourage more savings and less debt would result in lower emissions. Higher savings means more deferred purchasing, which means lower emissions in the short to medium term. 

It is perhaps somewhat ironic that the most climate change obsessed government in Irish history is also the worst offender when it comes to out of control spending. The Irish Fiscal Council last week reported that the government breached post financial crisis spending rules last year, and the increases in spending in recent years were not "conducive to prudent economic and budgetary management".   They warned that the spending had reached a similar magnitude to those prior to the 2008 crisis (funnily enough when the green party were last in government). Cormac Lucey has worked out that the cost of the spending overruns last year was € 3,500 per person living in the state. Instead of putting away the additional tax receipts into a rainy day fund, which would have lowered emissions, every cent has been squandered. 

And the more the government continues to spend recklessly, the more carbon credits they will need to purchase to offset the extra emissions meaning that the spending overruns are set to become a vicious cycle. If Ireland wants to get serious about reducing emissions it  needs a prudent government.


Saturday, 8 June 2019

Greencoat Renewables and the Magic of Fair Value Accounting

Make the prices rather higher than lower so that you can make a larger profit - Luca Pacioli, 16th century mathematician

The Irish media recently announced with great fanfare that Income and Profits were up sharply at Greencoat Renewables for the year 2018. On closer scrutiny, things don't look as rosy as one might think. The accounts show income of € 58m.

The majority of this income, € 46m, has nothing to do with actual wind energy or trading as most people would have assumed. It is in fact due to an accounting trick called a fair value adjustment. This boosted the income figure to produce a profit of €43m compared with a loss of € 2.5m for the previous year.   Interestingly, this new profit figure did not result in any tax to be paid.

The Accountancy Standard IFRS No. 13 allows assets to be stated at their Fair Value as opposed to their cost, which conventionally would have been the case. The Fair Value is the amount that an asset (in this case the wind turbines) could be traded for, i.e the selling price. A clause in the accounting standard allows room for subjective assumptions where there is no readily available market information. Greencoat have made use of this clause by increasing the asset life assumption from 25 to 30 years which allows them to record a higher fair value for their wind farm investments. This subjective increase in the value of their wind turbine assets is then recorded in the Income Statement as if normal income.

No actual cash is generated from fair value adjustments, it is simply a bookkeeping exercise to boost profits.



Sunday, 2 June 2019

Green Wave or Green Ripple ?

The Irish media were in exuberant mood after an exit poll showed that Greens were dominating the elections. Roll on more carbon taxes urged almost every jet-set loving journalist.

The results are now in. The Green Party garnered only 5.6% of the vote nationally in the local elections and 11% in the European elections. The biggest winners were the Fine Gael and Fianna Fail parties, both of which decided not to impose carbon tax increases in the last budget.

The Green Wave became a Green Ripple. The highest concentration of so called "journalists" in Ireland is in Dublin, where the Greens garnered the most votes, and that may explain the lob sided Green Wave hysteria the rest of us had to endure in the past week.

The fanatically EU devoted media outlets behind the exit polls were in fact in breach of EU law, namely Section 30 of the European Parliamentary Election Regulations 2004, which states :


Prohibition on publication of exit polls

30.—(1) No person shall in the case of a European Parliamentary election publish before the close of the poll—
(a)any statement relating to the way in which voters have voted at the election where that statement is (or might reasonably be taken to be) based on information given by voters after they have voted, or
(b)any forecast as to the result of the election which is (or might reasonably be taken to be) based on information so given.
(2) If a person acts in contravention of paragraph (1), he shall be liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding level 5 on the standard scale or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 6 months.



Monday, 6 May 2019

Irish Market Experiences High Levels of Negative Pricing

Since the introduction of the I-SEM in October 2018, Ireland has experienced a high level of negative pricing compared to other European markets. Prices dropped as low as minus €139.44 in February. Negative pricing occurs during periods of very high wind, mostly at night, when it becomes too expensive for power stations to switch off and then back on again when wind energy is low.

In such circumstances, it becomes cheaper for the power station to pay energy suppliers to take their power. It would be a bit like walking into a shop and seeing a negative price on a box of cereal i.e. they are paying customers to take their product.

Negative pricing is a new development in the Irish electricity market, but it is symptomatic of a problem that presumably has been happening for many years. If power stations are unable to switch off during periods of high wind then that means the co2 savings attributable to wind are much less than is often claimed.

In effect, it means we are running a duplicate system, with wind and fossil fuel /other renewables running in parallel with each other.

Power stations affected by negative pricing include other renewables such as biomass and waste to energy which are increasingly having to waste their output to facilitate more wind.


Sunday, 28 April 2019

The Gaping Holes in the 2040 Plan for Electric Vehicles

Reports of my demise have been greatly exaggerated


Mark Twain wasn't the only one to whom this applied.

Sales of diesel cars in Germany are increasing again, 33.1% in the first quarter of 2019 versus 32.3% this time last year. Down a bit from the nearly 50% four years ago. However, purchasers are canny and recognise a good buy, particular so that with the new Euro 6 emission standards, even the Environmental NGOs have to recognise that they are very clean. A 95 to 99% NOx emissions reduction on previous Euro 5 emission standards based on actual measurements driving on the street.

Also on the plus side a diesel car has less CO2 emissions than an electric car.

Just goes to prove that our lords and masters with their forthcoming ban on internal combustion engines have their heads once again in the clouds.

  The principal findings of the study are:

• In the natural turnover of the vehicle fleet, the significantly reduced NOX emissions from Euro 6d diesel passenger cars will be as effective as zero emission vehicles in helping cities become compliant with air quality standards. 

For NO2, PM2.5 and PM10, no appreciable effect on air quality compliance or population exposure is observed between any of the modeled diesel passenger car scenarios or their replacement with equivalent zero emission vehicles. [Full Report can be read here].  


It's unsurprising to see that even though Norway are throwing six grand of subsidies per electric vehicle per year, giving them free access to bus lanes and exemption from tolls, have the cheapest electricity in Europe (lots of hydro), the whole electrical vehicle initiative in Norway is running into big practical difficulties.


Same maths as I was doing below in the Irish situation and we won't have those levels of subsidies! Also interesting in that Japanese carmakers are renowned for being driven by their engineering departments, they do practical sums and don't let marketing spin dominate decision making. In other words if you assess technology trends because you are fully immersed in all aspects of them, you can make rational decisions about future investments, for example, Honda :



As to what this bubble economy electrical vehicle initiative actually delivers, well a short analysis of this lunacy:
  • An electric car with a 100kWh battery has thus emitted 15-20 tons of carbon dioxide even before the vehicle ignition is turned on. This calculation assumes a 50-70 per cent fossil share in the electricity mix [Link]. 

If you were to buy a Fiat Punto, which does 120 g of CO2 per km, you could drive it for nearly 170,000 km before you would have emitted the same 20 tonnes of carbon dioxide. 

Recently, our 'rulers' announced their plan for 2040. Let's just focus on one 'trendy' aspect:
So lets look at some simple sums, not a strong point of our glorious rulers, but relevant for plans which are meaningful and don't end up as an awful mess. To put the above into perspective, the CSO figures tell us that we have some 2 million cars in this so called 'Republic'. I accept that if one has enough money to buy a top range Tesla, one gets a 100 kWh battery pack, which on a good day can do something close to 400 km. This is what one is entitled to expect from what is a 'car' after all. However, the problem is when one needs to recharge it, as a domestic house is typically only set up for 7 kWh. So if you turn off all your other electrical appliances and wait 14 hours, you'll be ready to go again. Not very practical is it?

However, not to despair as they are going to build out new charging infrastructure for us instead. Well that 100 kWh battery may theoretically be 'supercharged' in something like 30 minutes, but let's assume that such a charging point can charge three such Teslas in an hour. This means that it has to deliver 300 kWh in an hour equivalent to 0.3 MW. So if we build a thousand of these, we then need a 300 MW power station to supply them. By international standards, this is a medium sized power station, which would be comfortably able to cover 10% of the average demand currently on the Irish grid.


So in simple terms if you want to be able to charge 3,000 electric cars in an hour, which is only 0.15% of the number of cars out there, you need a new 300 MW power plant, which is a large enough to cover 10% of the current country's demand. It's pretty obvious that unless you string up the country with new power stations and pylons, none of this is going to work, unless the public is prepared to spend a lot of their hard earned cash on electrical vehicles, which they will just have to park most of the time, as they don't have the hours to stand in line, awaiting an opportunity to get a charge in at one of these new 'charging infrastructures'. 

This is actually some pretty basis stuff and you would think that before they go off announcing their grandiose plans, they would have thought about it first. After all the data is published and readily available, such as from the SEAI's annual publications:


Transport uses some 42% of energy consumed in Ireland, more than double that which goes into electricity generation. If that energy demand is to be switched from fossil fueled vehicles to electric vehicles, then the electricity infrastructure we have would need to be more than doubled, even allowing for the fact, that the current grid is somewhat lightly loaded at night. Think about this one, you get an allocated slot to drive your Tesla to the new charging infrastructure to hook it up between 2.30 and 3.00 am - is this progress?

Cost Benefit Analysis 


There was a Strategic Environmental Assessment completed for this Project Ireland 2040, but it does not include a cost benefit analysis for EV's : 

Even when the above embedded CO2 impact of EV's is not included, the costs still do not stack up : 


 • Driving an EV for 200,000 km @ 437grams CO2  per kWh of electricity from the Grid,  assuming 90% charging efficinecy and 0.2kwh per km, runs to CO2 emissions of about 19.5 tonnes of CO2.

• Driving a Diesel Skoda Superb 200,000 km @ 4.7 litres per 100km and 254grams of CO2 per kWh of fuel  (10.4 kWh per Litre) runs aboput 125grams of CO2 per km or emissions of 25 tonne of CO2 over a 200,000 km vehicle life.

• The Tax/Exise Revenue on Motor Fuel runs at about 66%

• Revenue foregone on diesel fuel over 200,000 kms (9400 litres) @ 66% of €1.30 = €8,065 Revenue foregone

• EVs availing of Toll refunds of up to €500 per year could cost an additional €5,000 over a vehicle life. http://www.etoll.ie/electric-vehicle-toll-inc/

The total cost of direct and indirect subsidies for EVs could touch €25,000 per vehicle over 10 years and 200,000 km for a saving of up to 5 tonnes of CO2. Under ETS the value of a tonne of CO2 saved ranged between €15 and €25 per tonne over 2018 (see page 9

Spending €25,000 to save CO2 that could be saved for  €75 to €125 under ETS makes no sense.

If Air quality is the argument in Urban areas then tackling solid fuel heating emissions should be the approach. The 2016  Residential Solid Fuel and Air Pollution Study North South Ministerial Council (NSMC)  reckoned something like 93% off Urban Air Pollution ( which account for some 1200 deaths annually) was caused by Solid Fuels related pollution. The Report urged switching from solid to liquid fuels as the most effective remedy to improve Urban Air Quality.

Thanks to Pat Swords and John Callaghan for the number crunching. 

Sunday, 21 April 2019

Record Imports From China Has Offset Emissions Savings in Ireland

by Owen Martin

Ireland now imports a record € 5.3 billion of goods per year from China, higher than during the peak boom year of 2007 and double that of 2011. China is the biggest emitter on the planet so these imports come with a very high carbon footprint. Based on calculations made for other countries, I have calculated CO2 emissions of 6.1 million tonnes (MT) associated with our Chinese imports for last year.

CO2 emissions from electricity generation in Ireland in the year 2000 was roughly 17 MT. This has now reduced to around 12 MT . Imports from China since 2000 have increased by € 3.8bn, a consequent emissions rise for these imports of almost 4.3MT. 

So at a global scale, Ireland's efforts to reduce emissions in the electricity sector have been mostly offset by our increased outsourcing of emissions to China. 

This is something that's completely overlooked by the climate change advisory panel which essentially treats Ireland as an isolated entity with a separate climate to the rest of the world. In their most recent report, international trade only gets a single mention while carbon tax gets mentioned 57 times. China fails to get even a single mention. 



Sources:

1) https://www.cso.ie/en/statistics/externaltrade/goodsexportsandimports/

https://www.cso.ie/multiquicktables/quickTables.aspx?id=tsa01

2) USA imports from china was approx $400bn in 2012. Associated CO2 emissions was 512 MT according to carbonbrief.org. Which works out at 1.28 MT per $billion of imports, converted to euros is 1.14 MT per € 1 bn.  Emissions in china are up since 2012 according to the Guardian, so these emissions are actually understated.

https://www.forbes.com/sites/anaswanson/2014/11/12/heres-one-thing-the-us-does-export-to-china-carbon-dioxide/#6f80b8e16a1a

http://www.carbonbrief.org/media/342862/ukcarbonexports7.png

https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2018/03/this-is-what-the-us-imports-from-china/

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/dec/05/brutal-news-global-carbon-emissions-jump-to-all-time-high-in-2018


3) EPA emissions from Electricity :

Figure 3: http://www.epa.ie/pubs/reports/air/airemissions/ghgemissions2017/Report_GHG%201990-2017%20November%202018_Website.pdf

Friday, 12 April 2019

The Missing Hockey Stick




I created the above graph from temperature data published by the Central Statistics Office (CSO). As you can see, it shows a distinct lack of warming in Ireland since the 1950s. There is no sign of the famous hockey stick or indeed anything alarming. Yet the climate hysteria rolls on, seemingly oblivious to the actual facts.

Monday, 8 April 2019

Financial Engineering

Michael Hudson gives an insight into how modern financial markets work. It perhaps explains why wind farms in Ireland are being continuously bought and sold on. 

MH: The stock market no longer primarily provides money for capital investment. It has become a vehicle for bondholders and corporate raiders to borrow from banks and private funds to buy corporate stockholders, make the companies private, downsize them, break them up or strip their assets, and borrow more to buy back their stocks to create asset-price gains without increasing the economy’s tangible real asset base. So the financial sector, except for a brief period in the late 19th century, especially in Germany, has rarely financed productive growth. Financial engineering has replaced industrial engineering, just as in Antiquity creditors were asset strippers.

Saturday, 6 April 2019

Reality of Renewable Energy Hitting Home


It looks like the reality is finally hitting home that wind energy will not be lowering energy bills, even the mainstream media now seem reconciled to this fact.

"We import a huge amount of our energy from abroad," he said. "We import gas, coal and oil, and unfortunately all of those fossil fuels are increasing in price and still remain very, very high on international markets. Unfortunately, this means that further price increase cannot be ruled out in the months ahead."Mr Cassidy said renewable energy will not necessarily be cheaper. ESB is investing in wind energy but investment costs money."Renewable energy is greener, it is cleaner but it is not necessarily cheaper energy yet, so just because we are using more renewable energy doesn't mean that's going to lead to lower bills just yet."

Saturday, 23 March 2019

Wind Industry Admits Wind Energy Costs Money

But claim only as little as €1 per person


A recent Irish Wind Energy Association report has stated that the total net cost of wind energy to the consumer has been one euro per person per year since 2000. It is an interesting report for a number of reasons, not least, that this is the first time the wind industry in Ireland have admitted that wind energy costs money. 

The total cost calculated was €0.1bn, but this includes savings from not having to pay EU fines of € 0.7bn. Since it now looks like we will miss our targets regardless of how much more Ireland invests in wind (and unlikely in any event that the EU will impose fines on Member States), the actual cost then of wind energy according to the report was €0.8bn , eight times the cost claimed.  

Their calculations were based on wholesale price and capacity payments savings of €2.5bn  on one side and costs of €3.3bn on the other side arising from the PSO Levy, DS3, grid investment and constraint costs. This is the first time that the wind industry have acknowledged that these last three costs are directly related to increased levels of wind. This blog has argued that they should be included as wind related costs for many years now. 

I have shown before that the link between higher levels of wind and lower wholesale prices is tenuous. Wholesale prices are actually rising as investment in wind is at it's peak. The wind industry report used models to calculate their wholesale price savings rather than real data. I can no longer find any real time pricing data on the new SEMO website.  But if it is really the case that wind has led to €2.3bn in wholesale price savings plus €200m in capacity payments savings, then that means that power stations have taken a hit of €2.5bn over the 20 year period, with some additional revenue of €0.5bn from additional constraint payments. So about €2bn in lost revenue, the equivalent of about one whole year of wholesale payments lost to fossil fuel generators.  There is some evidence that has come out in recent days that shows that power stations are now losing money. Last year, ESB were forced to write down the value of two of their power stations. 

Finally, the report admits what I've been writing about for years, that only 10-11% of wind energy can be relied on as equivalent conventional capacity (capacity credit) :


The rate at which wind capacity reduces the capacity requirement is defined by the wind capacity credit, which is around 11% of installed wind capacity.

Under the I-SEM capacity market rules, wind receives a capacity credit of about 10% and OCGTs a capacity credit of about 92%. This means that 1 GW of wind is replaced by 109 MW (= 1 GW * (10% / 92%) of OCGTs.

The Wind Aware Ireland report goes into detail on the various wind related costs (they calculated a cost of € 1.2bn per year). I do not want to rehash all of those points, for those interested you can read the report here. But for further proof that costs across the board are increasing every year as more wind is added, one need look no further than the recent Ancillary Systems Services Report released by Eirgrid. When compared with the same report from three years ago, the costs to maintain back up reserves has more than doubled :






The full IWEA report can be read here.

Saturday, 9 March 2019

Emissions will Soar with Net Migration Targets of 30,000 per annum


This type of scenario is addressed by the expert group's high-range population growth scenario, which is based on average net migration of 30,000 people per annum into Ireland, every year to 2040 and beyond.

The housing minister stated last week that net migration into Ireland will be 30,000 per annum.   This will require up to 35,000 houses to be built every year to keep up with demand. 

Even though the number of houses built last year was greater that in any other year this decade, we think a reasonable target is 25,000 this year, 30,000 next year and 35,000 the following year.

It seems to be stating the obvious to say that this will have a knock on effect on emissions for Ireland but neither the media or the government in Ireland have recognized this. 

Net migration of 30,000 per year till 2040 means an additional 600,000 people, the population of Cork, that will enter Ireland. The 2040 plan has very optimistic targets for emissions without any account taken of the main objective of the plan - mass immigration.
an aggregate reduction in carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions of at least 80% (compared to 1990 levels) by 2050 across the electricity generation, built environment and transport sectors. In parallel, an approach to carbon neutrality in the agriculture and land-use sector, including forestry, which does not compromise capacity for sustainable food production. 

Saturday, 2 March 2019

Alternative Renewables - Waste to Energy








Dates : 12th and 13th January, 2019 [Source SEM-O] 
As the renewable energy programme has proceeded in Ireland without any form of supporting analysis, there has never been a proper economic assessment of the cost of reducing carbon emissions, using wind energy or any of the other ten sources of renewable energy listed in Directive 2009/28/EC.


Indeed, of the eleven different sources of renewable energy defined in the 2009 Directive, many are of a diffuse nature and more suited to being applied for heat energy rather than the generation of electricity. An example of this being the use of solar energy for water heating, which is a simple technology approach, such as circulating water through evacuated glass tubes.

Typical well-installed systems provide up to 60% of hot water demand over 12 months [SEAI].

The cost effectiveness of this approach can be determined from the fact that such installations were in use even before grants for their installation became available, as could also be said in relation to biomass (wood based) heating systems and aerothermal and geothermal systems for space heating.

If we consider a Waste to Energy (WtE) plant, the waste is combusted at a minimum temperature of 850 C producing in the boiler high pressure steam for electricity generation and hot water for use in district heating. Some 50% of the waste is of biogenic origin (biomass) and therefore 50% of energy produced is from a renewable source.

If this waste had instead gone to landfill, the biogenic fraction would have rotted and produced methane, which is a global warming gas with a Global Warming Potential (GWP) of 28 – 36 over 100 years. In other words it is some 28 to 36 times more potent than carbon dioxide. While the landfill gas collection system would have captured some of this methane for combustion in gas engines, figures show that of the order of 40% is directly released to atmosphere. In a WtE plant, the heat and mass balance shows 810 kWh of electricity produced per tonne of Municipal Solid Waste (MSW) combusted with about 0.72 kg biogenic CO2 and 0.53 kg fossil CO2 per kWh of direct emissions.

In the same timeframe that a 2004 report by ESB was stating that utilising a low penetration of wind energy to reduce a tonne of carbon dioxide was €120, it was being reported that the cost to avoid 1 tonne of CO2 with WtE was about €43, whereas the costs to avoid 1 tonne of CO2 with (other) biomass was €80. Indeed, if district heating systems are used in addition to solely electrical outputs, then this WtE CO2 avoidance cost reduces to the range €7 to €20.

It is therefore very difficult to reconcile these values with the claims made by many greens in Ireland, which are provided without any supporting evidence, that wind energy represents Ireland’s “cheapest renewable electricity resource”. But there is also evidence that increasing amounts of wind energy is discriminating against other forms of renewable energy.

The figure at the top of this article shows the relevant capacity factors for wind energy in Ireland and a Waste to Energy plant in Co. Meath over two days in January 2019. This facility treats some 200,000 tonnes of MSW per annum, with an electricity output of 18 MW, which was until recently a continuous output, with over 50% being classified as renewable. Outside of a short annual maintenance period this output is continuous so the WtE developer could in this case justifiably claim that this 18 MW is “enough to power more than 22,000 homes


Yet there was so much wind energy on the grid on the 12th and 13th January that other generators had to be taken off line and kept on hot standby ready to ramp up, when the inevitable happened and the wind dropped. This can be clearly seen in the graph, where the WtE plant had to be taken off the grid for extended periods. However, such a waste to energy plant can’t be simply throttled back, the waste is still arriving and the furnace temperature has to be kept at a minimum of 850 C. Instead the steam generated simply has to be dumped into the plant’s cooling system rather than be used to generate steam. Not only is this a loss of revenue to the WtE operator, but it is reflected in resulting higher costs for waste disposal of those using that facility.


It could be argued that discrimination is occurring, in that renewable energy produced at the WtE plant, in a far more reliable and cost effective manner, now has to be dumped to facilitate ever more wind energy being placed on the grid. Wind energy, which by its highly variable and intermittent nature is deeply flawed for the production of significant amounts of electricity. Indeed, as is shown above, this wind output basically isn’t there when it is needed for days on end and then it floods the grid for a short period with high inputs. This can only be managed by discriminating against other users, including those which are lower cost and more reliable renewable inputs. It is also fair to say that this is what you get, when you allow a ‘wild west’ of wind farm developments, without any analysis, without any assessments or without any of the legally required rules to ensure that authorisation is transparent, proportionate and does not discriminate between individual renewable technologies.