Sunday 25 October 2020

£5 billion Wind Subsidy Scandal in Northern Ireland

David O’Neill, Secretary of West Tyrone Against Wind Turbines writes on the latest energy scandal to hit Northern Ireland, this time involving £5 billion wasted on wind farms.

So, Sam McBride is currently the journalistic hero for his reports last week on what was essentially a denial of funding to hard pressed public services that could have done with this people sourced money. The funding went in part to some local land owners, but also to faceless outside investors who have honed their subsidy harvesting skills by re-engineering to smaller rotors or altering outputs to lower levels to make them look smaller.

I noticed however that this was almost immediately on the release of the NI Auditor General’s publication of the investigation into subsidies in the wider energy field. It was good that he reported this, but was he merely reflecting the AG’s (and possibly others) work? Let’s not forget that he also reflected on a Daily Mail report by Sam Greenhill on small wind, who in turn was assisted by the research efforts of Dr John Constable and his team at the REF. Dr Constable is painfully aware of bad energy policy with stakeholder influence acting in union to obfuscate the real and meaningful figures. His report is thanks to the development (hard work) of largely markets based database systems. Also deeply concerned about fuel poverty and security of supply; he keeps his other eye on UK grid data. Incidentally he does not attribute the EWIC to much by way spinning inertia. He is extremely busy but has found time to work with Professor Gordon Hughes, leaving me with no doubt of more revelations to come.

Coronavirus Numbers not in the Media

 The basis for the second lockdown is on numbers, numbers that are broadcast everywhere everyday. But only certain numbers get media coverage. Testing is supposed to uncover new cases giving an indication of the impending threat but in reality it does not matter if 50% or 100% of the population have the virus. All that matters are the numbers in hospital and the numbers who have died as only these numbers reflect the threat to the nation.

As of yesterday, 315 people were in hospital with the virus, which is 0.0064% of the population of Ireland. It seems preposterous that we cannot handle this without locking down the entire country.

According to the WHO, around 10% of people have or have had the virus, so about 490,000 in Ireland. Total deaths are 1882, which is a death rate of 0.38%. Once again, this doesn't seem like a very frightening number. 

Covid-19 is more mass hysteria than pandemic at this stage. 


Monday 19 October 2020

Transition to Renewables will require a 10-fold Increase in Mining Materials

 The following is an extract from a new paper by Irish scientists Michael and Ronan Connolly and Willie Soon et al which shows the true environmental and social cost of the Renewables revolution. Full report here.

Some have noted that the transition to these technologies would require a huge increase in the mining of limited resources, with Mills (2020) arguing that, “Compared with hydrocarbons, green machines entail, on average, a 10-fold increase in the quantities of materials extracted and processed to produce the same amount of energy”

Because of this 10-fold increase in quantities of minerals required by green technologies relative to those driven by hydrocarbons, Mills cautions that any significant expansion in green energy will create “an unprecedented increase in global mining”, which would radically exacerbate environmental and labor challenges in emerging markets, and dramatically increase the vulnerability of America’s energy supply chain.  Capellán-Pérez et al. (2019) underscore the concern that the extraction of the minerals required for the proposed transition to renewable energies is likely to intensify current socio-environmental conflicts associated with resource extraction. As we will outline, this gives rise to concern regarding potential uncertainty of supply. In contrast to the concerns about hydrocarbon peaks outlined above, projected mineral requirements seem likely to exceed current reserves within the very short time frame to the year 2030. This concern appears particularly pressing with regard to e-vehicles, which we discuss next, followed by related concerns regarding solar and wind energy.

Electric Vehicles

The projected production of electric vehicles (EVs) to replace vehicles powered by fossil fuels requires the consumption of a new range of metals, as outlined in a letter from a group of geologists and other earth scientists to the Committee on Climate Change in London who had recommended increasing the percentage of the UK’s cars that are electric or hybrid from 0.2% in 2017 to 100% by 2050. Herrington et al. warn that in order to replace the UK’s fleet of cars (currently 31.5 million) entirely with EVs, it would require “just under two times the total annual world cobalt production, nearly the entire world production of neodymium, three quarters the world’s lithium production and at least half of the world’s copper production during 2018 [ . . . ] If we are to extrapolate this analysis to the currently projected estimate of 2 billion cars worldwide, based on 2018 figures, annual production would have to increase for neodymium and dysprosium by 70%, copper output would need to more than double and cobalt output would need to increase at least three and a half times for the entire period from now until 2050 to satisfy the demand”. They further note that this proposed transition for the UK would also lead to a 20% increase in electricity usage for the country, due to the extra power generated needed for recharging the vehicles.

Even under its modest “New Policies Scenario”, the International Energy Agency’s projections to the year 2030 indicate that cobalt and lithium reserves are inadequate to meet EV needs (see figure below). Modeling on the assumption of a shift to 100% renewable electricity by the year 2050, with lithium-ion batteries accounting for approximately 6% of energy storage and 55% of energy for road transport being accounted for by electric vehicles, Giurco et al. (2019) consider that the cumulative demand for both cobalt and lithium is likely to exceed current reserves unless recycling rates are improved. They consider that the annual demand for cobalt for EVs and storage could exceed current production rates by around 2023, and that the annual demand for lithium could exceed current production rates by around 2022. Although they consider that high recycling rates can keep cumulative demand for cobalt and lithium below current resource levels, they caution that there is likely to be a delay before recycling can offset demand until there are enough batteries reaching end of life to be collected and recycled.

Increased annual demand for materials for batteries from deployment of electric vehicles by scenario, 2018–2030. Green dots indicate current supply. NPS = New Policies Scenario. EV30@30 =30% sales share for EVs by 2030. 

From extensive field research, including expert interviews, community interviews with miners and traders, and observation at 21 mines and nine affiliated mining sites, Sovacool (2019) documented displacements of indigenous communities, unsafe work environments, child labor, and violence against women in communities near cobalt mines. Because most of the world’s cobalt is produced in the Democratic Republic of Congo, the major increases in demand arising from global interest in EVs have created a rise in the number of local “artisanal” mines extracting cobalt. Several journalists have warned that these are often poorly regulated and sometimes involve the use of child labor. These socio-environmental issues give rise to further concern regarding security of supply. 

Capellán-Pérez et al. (2019) identify the technologies most vulnerable to mineral scarcity to be solar PV technologies (tellurium, indium, silver, and manganese), solar CSP (silver and manganese), and Li batteries (lithium and manganese). The transition to alternative technologies will also intensify global copper demand by requiring 10–25% of current global reserves and 5–10% of current global resources. The authors report that “other studies considering a full transition to 100% RES and considering the material requirements for transportation of electricity reach higher levels, e.g., 60–70% of estimated current reserves”. 


Solar Modeling on the assumption of a shift to 100% renewable electricity by the year 2050, with solar PV accounting for more than one-third of capacity and the remainder being generated by wind and other renewables, Giurco et al. (2019) calculate that to generate one-third of the world’s energy from solar power by 2050, this would require ~50% of the current reserves of silver. They consider that increasing efficiency of material use has the greatest potential to offset the demand for metals for solar PV, while recycling has less potential because of the long lifespan of solar PV metals and their lower potential for recycling. They also caution that declining ore grades may have a significant influence on energy consumption in the mining sector, associated with polymetallic ore processing and the mining of deeper ore bodies. They note that, although silver has an overall recycling rate of 30–50% almost no recycling of silver from PV panels occurs, because most recycling of PV panels focuses on recycling the glass, aluminum, and copper. 

Wind Turbines

Several types of wind turbine, such as the permanent magnet synchronous generator (PMSG), require magnets that orient wind turbines into the wind. These magnets contain rare metals such as neodymium (Nd), praseodymium (Pr), terbium (Tb), and dysprosium (Dy). The estimated demand for Nd is projected to increase from 4000 to 18,000 tons by 2035, and for Dy from 200 to 1200 tons. These values represent a quarter to a half of current world output. There are also concerns over the amount of toxic and radioactive waste generated by these mining activities. Current research is focusing on lowering the dependence on these materials by reducing and recycling. The construction of extensive wind and solar energy installations will require large quantities of base metals such as copper, iron and aluminum, which will be unavailable for recycling for the lifetime of the installation, thus exacerbating scarcities.

Monday 12 October 2020

Random Sampling For Covid-19

The following is a letter by Val Martin which was published in the Anglo Celt newspaper. My guess is that by the end of October most people will have had the virus which is the natural course of events.  The best approach now is the Focused Protection one as advocated in the Great Barrington Declaration.


 We are told there is a test for Covid -19 and we receive daily reports on the media of the number of new cases. We have several behaviour and attitudes survey companies in Ireland which carry out statistical surveys on a wide range of topics, but in particular on how people are likely to vote in elections. They report a possible margin of error (usually less than 3%) and confidence limits showing how confident they are of the accuracy of their results. Red C and MRBI come to mind.

A minimum of 900 people are surveyed, but best results are obtained with 1,050, This gives us the likely voting intentions of the entire population and the method is soundly grounded on quantitative methods and principles of costing surveying tools acknowledged by universities world wide. They are not perfect, but are very good indicators of the feelings of the population. They are also used by marketing companies.

Why does our government not test between 1,050 and 3,150 Irish people selected at random and use the data from the results to extrapolate the likely number of people who would test positive if we all were tested? The results could be 100,000, 500,000, 1 million or (as I suspect) one and a half million are positive. If there are 1 in 3 or 1 in 4 positive, it would require a whole new approach to the present one. The present policy is to keep the virus out, originally it was to flatten the curve. If 25% to 35% of the population have or had the virus and would test positive, only special isolation of vulnerable people will work and those who are not as vulnerable can get back to some kind of normality.

It looks like everyone out and about will get the virus in the next few months and by then the horrific economic, social and health costs may destroy the whole country and plunge us into recession the likes of which we never witnessed before. The reason for not doing this obvious survey could be that there is no test for Covid -19 at all, just for a range of Corona viruses and the test is not reliable for Covid – 19. If there is no reliable test we should be told.

I do not trust our government or our mainstream media to be truthful and I fear the virus will be used to bring in other long term restrictions and take away our constitutional rights. 

Sunday 4 October 2020

Higher Electricity Prices and Higher Emissions

What consumers were promised :

"We are introducing structural changes in the electricity sector that will create a more attractive investment climate for existing and new players, deliver increased competition, reduce the cost of electricity and offer greater choice for consumers” - Minister Dempsey, 2007

Electricity costs will fall in the longer term. The wind is going to be free forever and a day — there is no cost on that — the only cost is getting the technology in place - Minister Ryan, 2008.

DOUBLING the amount of wind energy on the national grid is key to preventing higher electricity bills in the future according to Energy Minister Pat Rabbitte, 2014

To date, developer-led onshore wind energy has been the most cost effective technology available to Ireland - Minister Ryan, 2020

What has happened in reality :

From 1st October 2020, electricity bills are to rise by almost €90 a year for more than one million customers. Electric Ireland will increase their prices by 3.4%, which will add €35 a year to the average bill, and PrepayPower will also be making a similar hike.

The PSO Levy will rise by 130% from about €38 to €88 per year. 

Electricity network operating costs and the cost of wind energy are the respective reasons cited for these hikes. Of course, the electricity network needs to be built out to facilitate more wind energy so this is an indirect cost of wind. 

And we are no better off as emissions have risen anyway :

Emissions from EPA 

I wont be advising you to switch energy supplier, the problem is a system problem, and switching just avoids us addressing the main issue here, which is our obsession with expensive and ineffective wind energy.