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Re: Telegraph promotes renewable energy

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 video

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).

Huhne and biomass

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: