Author: Robert Wilson

Why it is necessary to separate hydro from non-hydro renewables

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Renewable energy statistics are presented in a variety of confusing and misleading ways, and often they do not mean what the average reader thinks they mean. We are regularly told about the growth of renewables strictly in terms of installed capacity. Gigawatts of wind, solar, hydro and other renewables are added together and compared with gigawatts of coal, natural gas, oil and nuclear. Yet, these numbers cannot be compared in an apples to apples manner. After all, 1 gigawatt of nuclear capacity will produce almost ten times as much electricity as 1 gigawatt of solar capacity installed in Bavaria. Read the rest of this entry »

America’s 2030 renewable electricity target is just business as usual. Here is why

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Obama appears to have pledged that America will get 20% of its electricity from non-hydro renewables by 2030. Long-term climate watchers will recognize the form. Targets must always end in zero and the target year must always end in zero. The only departure from the form here is that the target does not rhyme. Read the rest of this entry »

Don’t get lessons on the history of coal from Slate

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If you do not know how something began, you will probably not know how it will end. This axiom, which I’ve just invented, may or not be true, but it possibly has some merits. Take this piece in Slate confidently telling us that the age of coal is now over. Coal, as anyone with knowledge of its history, is a rather resilient form of energy. Every time people write it off, it keeps coming back. Read the rest of this entry »

Britain could be emitting 50 million tonnes less CO2 if the electricity grid was regulated effectively

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The focus of debate around energy is always on the future. Should we build nuclear power plants? Should we frack? Should we ban coal? Should we ban onshore wind farms? These questions always seem to follow a simple yes/no formula. European energy policy, as Dennis MacShane observed, seems to simply be Just Say No! Read the rest of this entry »

An apology to the readers of Bishop Hill

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Over at Bishop Hill, the climate “skeptic” blog run by Andrew Montford, people seem to be discussing my short blog post from a couple of days ago which points out how climate change “skeptics” use the “This will harm poor Africans” gambit in their constant quest to provide justifications for doing nothing about climate change. My argument was that these people, mostly, don’t give a damn about the poor, but act is if they do when the subject of climate change comes up. Appealing to our better angels as a way of distracting from the fact that we are in fact appealing to our lowest, most selfish, instincts. Read the rest of this entry »

China is poised to overtake America as the world’s biggest oil importer

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If I stepped into a time travel machine and turned the dial to the year 2000, made my way to the nearest energy conference, and said the following, I would have been laughed off the conference floor: China will be the world’s biggest importer of oil in 15 years time.

This might have elicited laughter 15 years ago. But it is now about to come true, or it already has come true. Read the rest of this entry »

Jesse Jenkins on the land requirements of renewables

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Over at the Energy Collective, Jesse Jenkins has a piece on the land requirements of renewables, arguing that they aren’t a major barrier to deployment. Long-term readers will know I disagree with this as far as wind farms are concerned. Read the rest of this entry »