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One thing I've noticed from Paul Homewood's "Not a lot of people know that" blog is that there seems to be a spate of articles in the Daily Telegraph in the past year or so promoting renewable energy written by business/financial journalists, specifically Jeremy Warner (who used to work for the Independent) and Ambrose Evans-Pritchard. A few examples of the articles are given in these debunking posts from the blog, "Jeremy Warner’s Battery Revolution", "Now Jeremy Warner Loses The Plot!" and "Ambrose’s Holy Grail":
I don't think I remember the Daily Telegraph particularly promoting renewable energy before, other than through the promotion by default that comes with the employment of environmental journalists. It isn't natural for a conservative-leaning newspaper to be enthusiastic about massive changes to the way that the country generates its electricity.
Bishop Hill once mentioned a conversation about environmental news coverage that he had with somebody from the Telegraph several years ago in this blog post from 2015:
In the conversation, Bishop Hill remarked that it was strange that the Telegraph had decided to give a job to the veteran environment correspondent Geoffrey Lean, as he couldn't see this impressing Telegraph readers. The reply was "Ah, that's simple". "He's not there for the benefit of the readers but because green advertisers want him".
It makes me wonder if something similar might be going on with the pro-renewable energy articles written by the Telegraph's financial journalists - they could be being produced to satisfy the requirements of Green-leaning advertisers in the newspaper. Articles written by financial journalists might be taken more seriously by readers than those written by environmental journalists, as financial journalists are not particularly noted for being pro-Green (though there are a lot of Greenies in the financial community). If articles are being produced for Green advertisers then that would be in effect another form of 'fake news'.
Thanks for the interesting post.
Did you see David MacKay's last interview ()youtube) ? He credits the civil servants in the old Dept of Climate Change with doing the arithmetic and advising against subsidising renewables. The Ministers in his time were Huhne and Davey.
I cannot see any logic in having dedicated advising scientists ,headed by someone like Mackay ,and then taking contrary action?
Seemingly Huhne is now involved in a company shipping wood for fuel across the Atlantic.What's all that about?
I think I did mention David MacKay's final interview before his death in the "The confused Glastonbury festival organiser" thread last year, but I wasn't aware that a Youtube video of it was available. Here's the link for the video (about 23 minutes in length) for anybody interested:
MacKay does look reasonably OK in the interview and you wouldn't guess that he was only 11 days away from death at the time. The MacKay position on low carbon energy given in the interview was that in the specific case of the UK, renewable energy is actually a waste of time because of its poor performance in the winter months, and it would be better to rely completely on nuclear power and CCS (carbon capture and storage). He also revealed that the Civil Service had never regarded solar power as ever being a viable idea for the UK, and its presence in the UK energy mix is down to politicians and lobbyists like Jeremy Leggett.
It is a bit ironic that the Lib Dem politicians who were in charge of DECC, Chis Huhne and Ed Davey, must have been effectively ignoring MacKay's expert advice in favour of taking their advice from 'Big Green', as the Lib Dems have been trying to present themselves in the last year as the political party that has the most respect for experts. To give an example, the current Lib Dem party leader, Tim Farron, attacked Michael Gove over his remarks about experts in this newspaper article:
During one of the EU Referendum campaign debates in 2016, Gove said "People in this country have had enough of experts”, in response to being asked to name any economist who backed the idea of leaving the EU. The liberal establishment seems to regard Gove's comment as being the most controversial thing that anybody said in the Referendum campaign, somehow extending the scope of Gove's comment as applying to experts in all subjects rather than just economists, with Farron describing it as "perhaps the quote of the whole campaign" (personally I thought David Cameron's comment that Britain leaving the EU might trigger World War III was a lot more controversial).
On Huhne's involvement with the biomass form of renewable energy (which largely amounts in practice to burning wood), I think he effectively started that part of the renewable energy business up in the UK when he was put in charge of DECC. Subsequently after his fall from grace which included serving a brief prison term, he was appointed in 2013 as Europe manager of a firm called "Zilkha Biomass Energy", which makes wood pellets in the USA for export. The EU is the world's biggest customer for wood pellets. So Huhne is possibly making considerable amounts of money out a business he could be regarded as having largely created in the first place.
It is possible that the idea of expanding the biomass industry by Huhne was related to David MacKay's advice that renewable energy should ideally work in the winter months. Burning wood can certainly be carried out on demand all year round. But it is only classified as a form of low carbon renewable energy as a sort of technicality - if it was ever adopted on a very large scale the world would rapidly run out of trees.
As a sceptic of renewable energy, I've been intrigued by the tendency of the UK mainstream news media not to mention the rapid expansion of the biomass industry in the past few years, and the lack of awareness by many people of the significant presence of biomass in the UK energy mix. To give an example, in the recent Royal Institution Christmas Lectures for 2016, a statistic for the percentage of electricity in the UK generated by renewable energy of 25% was quoted. But as Paul Homewood pointed out, a sizeable chunk of this figure is actually coming from burning wood:
The idea of burning wood as a form of renewable energy is actually controversial within the Green blob. The Green NGOs haven't really liked the idea for a few years, but the Green business/financial community sees no problem with it at all. There are also divisions in the Green-leaning academic community over the issue. The controversy amongst academics was reported in this recent BBC news article: