Reality Checkpoint 2024
News from previous year

The GMB Union, representing 500,000 workers in the oil and gas sector, has just passed a motion at its annual congress urging the Labour Party to change course. It points out that Keir Starmer's plan to convert Britain to clean power (ie wind and solar) by 2030 will lead to power cuts. The GMB Union considers the Net Zero plans to be unviable and says that they must be dropped from the manifesto.

The criticism reinforces the comments made by Clare Coutinho, the energy secretary, who said that Labour's plans were ideological and that Labour were pretending that they could decarbonise the grid by 2030; an outcome which is unrealistic and unachievable.

15 Jun 24

The sharp decline in the popularity of Green parties in the EU is a consequence of their negative approach.Too often they advocate for a decline in living standards - by, for example, making meat more expensive - and tell people to stop doing things like flying. The childish and futile actions of activist groups such as Just Stop Oil add to the preception that environmentalists have no realistic solutions to the problems the world faces. (....part of a letter from MD, London, DT 13 Jun 2024; he goes on to suggest that more nuclear power stations would be advisable to provide clean, reliable electricity along with some use of GMOs to reduce dependence on pesticides - ND)

14 Jun 24

The International Energy Agency has said that a Chinese battery company, CATL, has developed a fast charging Shenxing battery capable of delivering 400km of range from a 10-minute charge. Apparently the battery is to be used in electric vehicles later this year.

There was also mention of another battery, the Shenxing Plus, with a range of 600 km.

The improved performance is due to advances in the chemistry of lithium iron phosphate cathodes; in particular, removing the dead space.

The IEA report highlighted the fact that most of the supply chains for battery materials are controlled by communist China, including lithium, cobalt, nickel, graphite and copper. China dominates global supplies of all such minerals.

6 Jun 24

Willie Walsh, the head of the airline trade body Iata, has criticised European policy on attempting to limit air travel. He said that arrogant Europeans risked alienating the rest of the world by restricting air travel in the name of the green agenda. Countries doing this, following Net Zero rules, were denying other nations benefits that they had enjoyed for decades.

Mr. Walsh made the point that this is solely a European debate; other parts of the world are carrying on with flights as normal.

Yvonne Manzi Makolo, head of African carrier Rwandair, said that because of the continent's poor roads and lack of railways, air travel is the only way to go. She said that saying they should slow down growth doesn't make sense.

Mr. Walsh said that the air industry does not have the resources to decarbonise without government help. All costs would have to be passed to passengers. The costs could not be borne by the industry because it was working on very thin margins.

3 Jun 24

Politicians tell us that renewables are cheaper than fossil fuels, Yet the more we switch to renewables, the higher prices go.

The logical conclusion is: if politicians are so determined to impose their ideology on us it will make energy unaffordable for households and businesses. This means we need different politicians.

30 May 24

A new 3GW nuclear power station will be built on Anglesey at the Wylfa site, according to government ministers.It has an existing grid connection, hard bedrock, access to cooling water and the site has been partially cleared already by a previous developer. The old Wylfa B (1972-2015) generated 1 GW for 43 years. The costs and construction time are uncertain; these enormous one-offs (personal opinion) are not the way to low-cost nuclear power, though at the moment we need all the nuclear capacity we can get.

24 May 24

PV Solar Panel manufacturer SolarWorld has filed for bankrupcy. It was unable to compete with China's PV industry, which uses slave labour, fossil-fuelled shipping and cheap coal-fired electricity.

15 May 24

In Australia, Chinese solar panels are so cheap that some people are using them as garden fences. They're not so effective as when they're on house roofs, but you don't have to pay scaffolding costs. It also avoids roof damage by the panel installers.

14 May 24

The European Court of Human Rights has ruled that governments have a duty to protect their citizens from climate change. The impact of this, including on the UK, is that climate change policies must be in place regardless of the costs and benefits.

We are facing a direct threat to democracy and the rule of law.

10 Apr 24

A recent report in a major newspaper (the DT) quoted a government source as saying that we are the first major economy to halve our emissions.

The source should have continued as follows:

"We have done this by exporting the pollution and our industry to other countries".

10 Mar 24

In October 2009, just before the Copenhagen summit, the Prime Minister of the day, Gordon Brown, said that we had 50 days left to save the planet. Nothing much happened in Coperhagen, and we're still here.

In 2021, the Labour Party stated that if elected, they would spend 28 billiion per year until 2030 on their 'green' investment plan. Unsurprisingly, that scheme has now been ditched, and the alleged link between the terms 'green' and 'prosperity' remains unclear.

The Net-Zero torture has been lessened a little, extending the lives of diesel and petrol cars and gas boilers by 5 years. But it's becoming increasingly clear that when people realise they can either have prosperity or an energy system dominated by renewables, but not both, they will choose prosperity.

Orsted, the Danish developer of offshore wind, is sacking hundreds of workers; a result of shrinking subsidies. Meanwhile the increasing costs of energy caused by the disastrous 'Net Zero' policy are relentless. Pubs are closing all over the country because they can't afford to heat their premises; factories are moving abroad or closing down because they need affordable energy to make the goods they sell; farmers in Wales are being ordered to plant 20% of their land with trees instead of producing food.

Our Climate Change Act of 2008 mandated a cut in greenhouse gas emissions of 80% of the 1990 levels by 2050. In 2019, that percentage was upped to 100% ('Net Zero'). It became law after only 88 minutes' debate in the Commons. And yet the link between carbon dioxide levels and global temperatures is still unproven.

How was it that the main parties thought they all had to think in the same way about the complicated and uncertain subject of climate change?

It seems to me that the UK's energy policy has been designed specifically to exclude the wishes of its citizens.

24 Feb 24

Up to 2021, many world leaders (with a conspicuous lack of science knowledge) were saying that electric vehicles would soon revolutionize transport. It's unravelling, exactly as engineers and physicists predicted.

Renault is abandoning plans to list its EV business Ampere separately. Volvo is winding down its Polestar electric sports car facility. Volkswagen is cutting production of two of its EV models. Ford is scaling back its EV plans in Michigan, saying that it can't make enough money on them to offset costs. Honda and GM are abandoning their plans to buiuld cheaper EVs; they couldn't make the numbers work. Toyota are financing other technologies. They want customers to have choice. Mercedes have now publicily stated they will be manufacturing petrol and diesel cars for years.

Demand for EVs is falling because the vehicles cost a lot more than anyone expected, the performance is worse than expected, and what market there is will captured by the Chinese because they can make vehicles more cheaply than us.

For non-Italians - a 'fiasco' is an empty flask.

23 Feb 24

The Prime Minister has pushed back the 2030 ban on selling new petrol and diesel cars by 5 years, but he has left in place the punitive targets and fines designed to increase the number of EVs on the roads.

Basing industrial policy on targets rather than needs, and forcing manufacturers to makes cars which people don't want, is not the way to run a profitable industry.

6 Feb 24

Reported to me today: "Heard on the New this morning that the electric school bus fleet here in Prince Edward island, Canada, is a complete flop. The range estimates were false, the charging system is completely inadequate and at any given time, 20% of the bus fleet is in the workshop needing unscheduled repairs. "

27 Jan 24

Drax, which burns foreign wood chips imported for the purpose, is planning to put similar plants into action in the US and Canada. The company says it wants to become a world leader in carbon capture.

There are so many holes in this scheme it's difficult to know where to begin. Firstly, CO2 doesn't drive climate; secondly, the chips travel halfway across the world using tankers fuelled by diesel - under subsidy by the UK government for being so green; thirdly, carbon capture doesn't work anyway, as was shown a decade ago when several similar schemes collapsed after being funded for just long enough to grab a few newspaper headlines.

This nonsense is best summarised as a triumph of hope over experience.

Clearly our politicians didn't pay enough attention in their Chemistry and Physics lessons.

26 Jan 24

I noticed in the paper today tthat Drax is considering Carbon Capture to run alongside its environmentally-suspect project of burning wood chip from the other side of the world and getting subsidised for doing so.

In the light of this I've updated a piece I wrote some time ago explaining why Carbon Capture doesn't work. Don't feel obliged to keep it to yourself.

Why Carbon Capture Doesn't Work

26 Jan 24

Another electric bus burst into flames in west London, making it the third such fire in three weeks. Luckily no-one was injured.

The fire happened in Putney at a bus garage. Twenty people were evacuated from the premises before the emergency services arrived. The vehicle was operated by Go-Ahead London, which is now checking its other EVs.

How many more fires before we get serious loss of life? Imagine one of these vehicles on fire, stuck in a tunnel or a confined space.

26 Jan 24

A double-decker bus on the school run in Wimbledon spontaneously combusted and exploded yesterday, filling the area with toxic fumes: hydrogen fluoride, sulphur hexafluoride and hydrogen chloride. Another one (a hybrid) caught fire in Woolwich, north London at about 7am this morning. Firefighters did their best, but it was a long time before the blazes were extinguished.

TfL has taken its electric buses out of service whilst it's working out what to do. The burnt-out shells of the two buses will have to be studied to see exactly what happened. Fortunately no-one was injured.

This morning's blaze was the latest example of safety problems with electric vehicles; the fastest-growing cause of fires in London last year, according to the London Fire Brigade.

Similar problems were experienced in Paris last year. An electric bus caught fire on 4 Apr and another on 29 Apr 22. Both were Bluebus 5SE.

12 Jan 24

The government's Net Zero plans have proved controversial amongst the more sensible members of the party. Someone not in that category, Chris Skidmore, a former energy minister, has resigned because of the Prime Minister's plans to boost oil and gas production in the North Sea by granting more licences for extraction.

A government source said that it's disappointing that Mr. Skidmore has taken this approach. Not making use of the oil and gas in the North Sea means importing higher-carbon liquefied natural gas which means more global emissions.

For someone so passionate about the environment, it seems like an illogical position.

Mr Sunak has also faced a rebellion by MPs who oppose quotas on the sales of electric cars. This plan involves setting a quota for each dealer and then imposing fines of 15,000 per EV not sold. I suggest this is not the way to run a prosperous car industry.

6 Jan 24

Environment Agency officials promised in 2020 that stronger floodgates, barriers and pumps would be provided to protect historic homes in Tewkesbury, where the Severn and other rivers have burst their banks repeatedly. The work was not done, and this week, around 1000 homes in that area were flooded.

6 Jan 24

Over the last fifteen years we have had ample evidence of the government's inability to think long-term, or, indeed, to plan at all. We have seen functioning power stations switched off and demolished before adaquate replacement capacity is ready. We have also seen promotion of electric vehicles before the charging infrastructure is built, at a time when the Grid struggles to supply enough energy for us on cold winter days.

If you need further evidence of the government's inability to plan, what about this: Lord West, the former first sea lord, is asking why the Navy is decommissioning warships without having a new fleet to take over. "We are losing operational ships, which is all very well as long as there's no war in the next few years," he said.

5 Jan 24

If you'd like to learn more about EVs, have a look on Youtube. There are several informative channels, but the best one I've found so far is run by John Cadogan, an Australian car dealer and wordsmith (with a sound knowledge of cars, Physics and Chemistry).

Unlike car journalists, he's not a shill for the big car dealership companies. He's highly entertaining and tells you about the way Land Rover, Skoda and most of the rest treat you after you've parted with your money.

21 Dec 23

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