Preventing the Lights Going Out

Howard Curnow

Recent news on energy

This piece appeared in the Methodist Recorder, 2 Dec 22, and is republished here by permission of MR and the writer.

Preventing the lights going out

JA makes a claim in his article (Voicing a View, MR November 18) "....of using only renewable electricity".

Presumably he means that he pays for his electricity through a producer of reneewable electricity. But that is not the same thing. His supply, I presume, comes through the national grid and it is only the existence of generation by nuclear, gas, wood and (possibly) some coal that prevents his lights going out at night.

There are those who want to trace climate change right back to the industrial revolution, as if this were an unmitigated tragedy; but, directly or indirectly, it led to many things changing for the better - not least, human life expectancy across the world. No doubt human beings do have an effect on climate, but this is not solely through the use of fossil fuels and carbon dioxide; and some 'green' measures make little sense. Why was it considered 'green' to stop using coal at Drax power station and instead to use wood, I never understood - and it makes even less sense when the wood comes from trees felled in the USA and then transported across the Atlantic.

JA also refers to sea level rise. Some seem to think that this is something that started recently, but sea levels have been rising slowly and steadily since the ending of the Little Ice Age - and that is certainly not all down to human activity.

Both the Anglican Church and the Methodist Church have talked about being "net zero" by 2030; but as far as I can see, the "route maps" for this only talk about reducing emissions, which rather begs the question of what is understood by "net zero".

HC, habitat21

    Thanks Howard - Ed.

    Incidentally, the 'PM' programme yesterday (BBC Radio 4, 12 Dec 22) made mention of the negligible performance of wind farms over the last ten days or so; at the time of the programme, Gridwatch gave the following figures for the national grid:

    Demand: 42 GW

    Electricity share of generation:
    56% Gas
    15% Nuclear
    4% Coal
    3% Wind
    0% Solar

    The rest was supplied by various interconnectors from Europe and the STOR reserve, which is a collection of small diesel generators spread over the country adding up in total to about 1.5GW. At one point the Grid was paying 6000 per MWh (6 per kWh) to balance supply and demand and to stop the lights going out. It seems that power cuts are imminent. Wind turbines are not up to the job, and the BBC should ensure that the public knows about it.

Back to top

Energy Policy
Nuclear Power
Wind -
big turbines
Wind -
small turbines
Diversity Website