Net Zero: doubling down on stupid, by Pete North

Climate change, like Covid, has never been about human well-being, but rather about power and control. From Pete North at turbulenttimes.co.uk:

Most of my thinking lately dwells on the impossibility of Net Zero. Green energy lobbyists have ramped up the propaganda in recent months, doing all they can to obscure the reality of Net Zero. There are now endless debates as to the true cost of wind energy. Carbon Brief is pushing the line that wind energy is “nine times cheaper”.

Andrew Montford of Net Zero Watch has a crack at this dodgy number. Montford’s analysis is often quite good. Personally I think the argument needs to be reframed. Costing energy is an imprecise science because it’s fraught with complexity. The slam dunk argument against wind energy is when we frame it as intermittent versus dispatchable energy.

I argue that the cost of building and operating windmills is not a standalone figure. We must also consider the cost of grid balancing and the various energy storage technologies. Energy storage is in its infancy. It is not cheap. It is not going to get cheaper any time soon. In all probability it’s going to remain a pricey affair for decades to come. There will be shortages of lithium and battery grade nickel in the next five to ten years, leading to production and supply chain problems.

In the interim gas power stations are doing the heavy lifting of grid balancing and wind backup. It wasn’t cheap before the war in Ukraine and it’s not cheap now. Moreover, as we’ve dismantled our conventional power generation, we’ve lost a great deal of spinning reserve for short term grid balancing so we’re now having to build standalone flywheels – simulating the spinning metal mass of a power station turbine. The demonstrator is set to cost £25m. The more intermittent energy we add the more it destabilises the grid so we could end up needing dozens of these contraptions.

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