Winds of Change – Edinburgh Centre for Carbon Innovation

Winds of Change meeting at Edinburgh Centre for Carbon Innovation 13th Sept 2012
On the 13th Sept I went to the showing of the short film “Winds of Change” followed by a talk in support of wind by Maitland Mackie BSC, MA Hons Econ, FRAgS DBA, LLD, CBE.     I also passed the time of day with John Maslen the MD of “greenenergynet.com”.
I have been to the ECCI meetings before and once again seemed to be the only person in the room not in favour of wind power. Even the director of the film “Winds of Change” admitted a sneaking fondness for wind power  – and his film was supposed to be making the case AGAINST wind!! Dr Mackie handed out copies of his booklet, “The Real Rationale for Renewable Energy”. A copy can be downloaded at “greenenergynet.com/scotlands-energy-challenge”. I did not realise at the time that I had been chatting to the MD of the company that produced the booklet.
The booklet carries the usual green exaggerations [e.g. the amount of CO2 that will be saved!] but is something we should fear since Dr Mackie is such a wealthy, eminent and learned man. The gist of his argument is that the world is near to running out of fossil fuel and as a matter of urgency we have to move to wind power. He does not seem to be aware that even large installations of wind turbines have yet to result in any reduction in CO2 [and by deduction fuel use}. Carbon Dioxide levels rose in Europe in 2010 and both Germany & Denmark have failed to achieve any reduction in CO2 [and fossil fuel usage]. Both countries have higher per capita CO2 than the UK. I have written to Dr Mackie today to make that point. He is also of the view that electricity prices will necessarily rise rapidly. Shale gas in the USA has caused gas prices to halve and this is will stabilise US electricity prices. As the USA is expected to start exporting gas in the near future the effect may be to lower world gas prices and hence electricity costs here. We should support shale gas exploration. Hopefully, cheap gas would compete with wind power. Wind, however, will make electricity more expensive.
Dr Mackie is an evangelist for wind and is capable and has a pleasant manner thus his opinion will be sought and his conclusions will be believed by many. The basis of his sales pitch is that there is a huge amount of money to be made from wind power. He cites the three turbines that Mackie’s have set up on their farm near their ice cream factory. The basis of the profit is the fact that Government subsidies make it possible for Mackie’s to be paid 11p per kWh for their wind power [whilst the wholesale price for power from conventional sources is just 4p].
The profit schedule is shown on page 10 of the booklet but has errors:- I believe his capital cost for 3MW is too low at £3.6 million instead of £4.5 million; and I very much doubt that a site with an average wind speed of 7m/s will give a capacity factor of 0.33 [it seems about 15% too high]. An income of 1000 x 24 x 365 x 11p is given as £983,600* where £963,600 is correct, but when compared to a total cost of £546,000 it leaves a handsome profit of £417,600 p.a. Dr Mackie does not seem to realise that this indecent profit for landowners comes at the expense of the consumers, many of them poor!  He is quite open that the 4p [£350,400 gross p.a.] from the ROC is unnecessary. Mackie’s could make a profit without the ROC! Is it not time to press to have the subsidies cancelled? Dr Mackie’s own figures could be cited to support the case for reduction in ROC’s
On page 12 of the booklet Dr Mackie says,”Richard Lochhead, the Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs and the Environment has taken on board my recommendation to establish a rolling loan fund”. The Scottish Government will fund applicants for the expenses for “start-up and planning procedures”. Those “which fail will not be required to repay the loan”. Is it in order for Government money to be used in this way? Does it not show a bias in favour of wind? After the ‘consultation’ on the 3rd Sept I wrote to Mr Lochhead to complain about the short notice period for the ‘consultation’, his presumption that wind power was “clean” and also to ask him to look at the defects of wind viz:
a)  Even with so many wind turbines, one third of the time the wind will be slight and at such times Scotland will not be able to meet Maximum Demand. b)  When there is a healthy wind, say 22mph, the power generated will be in excess of Minimum Summer Demand, together with the capacity of interconnectors to move the power elsewhere.
Thus ‘curtailment’ is probable. c)  Wind power is unreasonably expensive and will put millions more into fuel poverty and also drive manufacturing to places with more logical energy policies e.g. China.”
He did not acknowledge the e-mail. I suspect that Mr Lochhead is a ‘dyed in the wool’ wind supporter, so expect no help from him.
On page 12 Dr Mackie says that through his booklet he hopes the planning process will start with,”a presumption in favour of wind turbines”. This is a dangerous precept.
The film,” Winds of Change” is a delightful nostalgic picture of a family in the ‘Flow’ country who wish to keep their moor land free of wind turbines and continue with country sports such as hunting with hawks. The family are fourth generation owners and appear to be what is now called decayed gentry. They come in for some gentle ribbing in the film. The film was commissioned by the BBC, who according to the director David Graham Scott, have now banned the film for being too radical in its opposition to wind. I told Mr Scott that I thought this says more about the bias of the BBC than that of the film.
Kind Regards
Bill Bowie
* a greenenergy typo I think

One Response to Winds of Change – Edinburgh Centre for Carbon Innovation

  1. [...] have added a new page to this blog – a report on a meeting in Edinburgh.  I know that’s a little north of [...]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>