Recently in Energy Category

nuclearcake.jpgEvery time you think the Lib Dems can't sink any lower, they manage it, on cuts, on electoral reform, on privatisation. Today it's energy. Here's Chris Huhne from 2007:

"Ministers must stop the side-show of new nuclear power stations now. Nuclear is a tried, tested and failed technology and the Government must stop putting time, effort and subsidies into reviving this outdated industry.

"The nuclear industry's key skill over the past half-century has not been generating electricity, but extracting lashings of taxpayers' money."

Since then, of course, he and his colleagues have gotten into bed with the Tories (pictured), and we know the Lib Dems accepted nuclear as an area they'd lose out on. As the responsible Minister, it would be perfectly reasonable for him to say:

"Everyone knows our party's position on this issue, but it's a coalition, a compromise, and the Government's policy is supportive of nuclear power."

I wouldn't do it - opposition to another generation of nuclear plants was our only red line issue for any coalition talks after the 2007 election - but it would be understandable.

Instead the BBC quote him indirectly as follows:

Mr Huhne, seen as anti-nuclear power in the past, said his previous position had been misunderstood and he had merely pointed out there had been no private investment since the Three Mile Island accident in the US in 1979.

Disgraceful and dishonest.

Update: Jeff and I are on the same page, it seems.
Double update: Justin found an even better Huhne quote from the vaults.
oilgusher.jpgOil from BP's blunder keeps pumping into the Gulf of Mexico, causing all sorts of collateral damage, and there's no prospect of it ending soon. It clearly illustrates the direct risks from oil drilling as locations get more extreme, and it matters to Scotland.

In particular, deep-water drilling is due off Shetland, and the industry's record in the North Sea has long been problematic, with another major incident last week. The last administration's proposals for drilling in the Moray Firth will no doubt still go ahead too.

Anyone in their right mind looking at the risks and long-term viability of various energy sources surely has to conclude it's time to start phasing oil out altogether and switching to renewables. That's relatively easy for power generation and demand reduction while admittedly harder for transport, but there are some enormous opportunities going untaken.

American Presidents from Reagan onwards have been committed to empty rhetoric on oil, and have an abject history of failure. They bear the responsibility for the disaster unfolding endlessly in the Gulf of Mexico, along with BP, just as government after government here will do if and when something like this comes to our shores.

Burying coal.

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nonewcoal.jpgThere's an awful lot of work going on outside office hours ahead of the election, and this week we were reminded what it's all about. 

On Wednesday we circulated a paper calling into question the practicality of carbon capture and storage: in it the Economideses conclude that "underground carbon dioxide sequestration via bulk CO2 injection is not feasible at any cost".

With Labour having a sensible but uncontroversial motion about climate change up for debate on Thursday, Patrick then moved an amendment to add the following text at the end (his speech here):

", and also opposes new unabated coal power capacity, and therefore calls on the Scottish Government to reject plans to build a new coal-fired power station at Hunterston given that large-scale CCS at existing coal or gas plants has never been successfully demonstrated."

Ministers went into panic mode. Despite having themselves laid the groundwork for a possible judicial review by ramming Hunterston into the National Planning Framework 2 after consultation, they decided they could not vote or speak to this issue or whip their MSPs (more on this later).

At this point I thought there was a chance we might win the vote but more or less by default. But at 5pm we got an absolute majority in Parliament, with Patrick's amendment carried by 66 to 26, with 10 abstentions (that doesn't include Ministers, who simply didn't vote).

It's exceptionally significant, perhaps the biggest policy win of this Parliamentary session. The plant proposed would have just a quarter of its pollution captured, even assuming that proves feasible, and it's hard now to see it going ahead. 

That would first require investors to have confidence in the plant, and they're unlikely to if Parliament doesn't. Even if they press on, it'd require SNP Ministers in a minority administration to take a decision against the clear will of Parliament. As Sir Humphrey put it, that would be "a brave decision, Minister".

But the vote goes beyond that - it expresses a clear will against all new unabated coal capacity, not just that proposed for Hunterston. Given there's no majority in Parliament for nuclear either, this is a very clear course set for clean renewable energy as the basis for Scotland's future energy supply. It's also an outcome which more than justifies all the campaigning Greens are doing across the country.

I see you.

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penanlogging.jpgDespite the heroic-white-man myth, I loved Avatar: after all, how did our unobtanium get under their tree? It's the classic tale of colonialism, just with better effects. Be blue, go Green.

In South Lanarkshire today, it's the threat of opencast coal, and the locals are indeed getting help from outside - sadly, today the bad guys also arrived in force

I've never before put a press release up here, but by coincidence today the wonderful Survival International (give generously) put one out with the following comments.

A Penan man from Sarawak (above), in the Malaysian part of Borneo, told Survival International:

"The Penan people cannot live without the rainforest. The forest looks after us, and we look after it. We understand the plants and the animals because we have lived here for many, many years, since the time of our ancestors.

"The Na'vi people in 'Avatar' cry because their forest is destroyed. It's the same with the Penan. Logging companies are chopping down our big trees and polluting our rivers, and the animals we hunt are dying."

Kalahari Bushman Jumanda Gakelebone said:

"We the Bushmen are the first inhabitants in southern Africa. We are being denied rights to our land and appeal to the world to help us. 'Avatar' makes me happy as it shows the world about what it is to be a Bushman, and what our land is to us. Land and Bushmen are the same."

Davi Kopenawa Yanomami, known as the Dalai Lama of the Rainforest, said: 

"My Yanomami people have always lived in peace with the forest. Our ancestors taught us to understand our land and animals. We have used this knowledge carefully, for our existence depends on it. My Yanomami land was invaded by miners. A fifth of our people died from diseases we had never known."

Survival's director, Stephen Corry, said:

"The fundamental story of Avatar - if you take away the multi-coloured lemurs, the long-trunked horses and warring androids - is being played out time and time again, on our planet.

"Like the Na'vi of 'Avatar', the world's last-remaining tribal peoples - from the Amazon to Siberia - are also at risk of extinction, as their lands are appropriated by powerful forces for profit-making reasons such as colonization, logging and mining."

Back to South Lanarkshire, Harry Thompson, former chair of the local community council, said:

"Despite massive community opposition to the mine at Mainshill, Scottish Coal and South Lanarkshire Council continue to disregard the interests of those living in proximity to the mines. The particulate matter released in the open cast mining process in this area has caused unusually high rates of cancer and lung disease. Granting permission to a new mine 1000 metres from the local hospital is the final straw."

Update: if you have seen Avatar, or are sure you won't ever do so, and fancy its politics analysed in more detail, the Socialist Unity view is fascinating.

What would John Muir do?

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OceanWindTurbines.jpgThe recent much-delayed and much-caveated approval given to the Beauly-Denny grid upgrade was met with many predictable responses. The renewables crowd are delighted, and the Ramblers are appalled. So far so obvious. The environmental movement is generally supportive too, as you'd expect, with one glaring exception.

The John Muir Trust. They didn't welcome the unlocking of Scotland's clean energy potential, or breathe a sigh of public relief for the contribution this scheme would make to tackling climate change. 

No, they condemned the announcement in very clear terms. Previously they have even implied that a judicial review might be in the offing

Don't get me wrong, the failures of administrations north and south of the border have made me very fond of judicial review, but is this a consistent position for the JMT to have adopted? Specifically, is it the position John Muir himself would have taken?

The Sierra Club, founded by Muir and friends, has posted a decent concise biography if you want to find out more about this remarkable man, born in East Lothian but who is rightly recognised as the grandfather of the American environmental movement.

Earlier this week I got into reading some of John Muir's works for the first time. Many of them are freely available here. Amongst them is "The Cruise of the Corwin", a colourful set of tales from a voyage Muir took through the Arctic in 1881. It's pretty rude about some of the local people, especially the Aleuts, but is fascinating and well worth a read.

One of the Corwin's stops was on Wrangel Island, claimed by the Corwin's captain for America but more logically now one of Russia's most northerly possessions. While there, Muir speculated that "perhaps the ice does not leave the shore free more than once in ten years." 

He also commented on the opportunities scientists have to study "the magnificent polar bear among the ice - the master animal of the north", and noted that "no portion of the world is so barren as not to yield a rich and precious harvest of divine truth".

Far to the east of Wrangel, the Corwin subsequently visited Unalaska, part of the Aleutian chain. There, while considering the mountains in the area, Muir observed the following before going on to consider the changes to glaciation since the Ice Age:

"The noblest of them all was Makushin, about nine thousand feet high and laden with glaciers, a grand sight, far surpassing what I had been led to expect. There is a spot on its summit which is said to smoke, probably mostly steam and vapor from the infiltration of water into the heated cavities of the old volcano. The extreme summit of Makushin was wrapped in white clouds, and from beneath these the glaciers were seen descending impressively into the sunshine to within a thousand or fifteen hundred feet of sea-level. This fine mountain, glittering in its showy mail of snow and ice, together with a hundred other peaks dipping into the blue sky, and every one of them telling the work of ice or fire in their forms and sculpture - these, and the sparkling sea, and long inreaching fiords, are a noble picture to add to the thousand others which have enriched our lives this summer in the great Northland."

It's clear to me that this was an environment he cared about, a harsh but important place he would have fought to defend if it had been threatened in his day as it is in ours. If he had lived in a world where the choice was climate change or radical changes to our energy supply, where pylons would bring clean energy to the grid and help preserve all the world's vulnerable places, I'm sure he'd have seen the bigger picture and have been on the same side as the Greens, as WWF, and as Friends of the Earth

I challenged the JMT on Twitter about this as the Beauly-Denny upgrade was being announced, and got a response from their official account. It read:

"@twodoctors Two words, Hetch Hetchy"

Hetch Hetchy, a valley in Yosemite, was threatened during Muir's lifetime with being dammed to provide water for San Francisco. His trenchant views on the issue are here and here, and although his campaign was lost, others have still not given up. If they win, as I hope they do, they estimate it will take fifty years before the valley becomes an "established, relatively mature ecosystem."

There's next to nothing in common between Hetch Hetchy and the Beauly-Denny line as far as I can see. In one case a beautiful natural environment was unnecessarily flooded, erased, wiped off the map. In the other, some pylons will come down and some pylons will go up, but with no permanent ecological damage. 

If the best way to transmit power changes, or our energy network becomes more decentralised, the pylons will come down and the only mark they will leave will be a stub of concrete, soon covered over, plus some photos of what they looked like. It wouldn't take fifty years like Hetch Hetchy - within fifty days you wouldn't know the Beauly-Denny line had ever been there unless you knew exactly what you were looking for.

The logic of the comparison, as I understand it, is therefore as follows:

John Muir was against the Hetch Hetchy development. Beauly-Denny is also a development. Therefore John Muir would have opposed it.

No, he wouldn't have, not unless he came back as a climate change denier. It's false logic. There's a massive and irreversible threat to Scotland's wild spaces, but it's not from renewables, it's from climate change

The John Muir Trust do plenty of other admirable work, including conservation work parties and all the rest, sure. Sadly this work is undermined by their opposition to Beauly-Denny, as it is by their regular opposition to wind turbine applications. These misguided campaigns no doubt bring in the donations, but they also betray a deep disregard for the defining environmental issue of our age, as it affects both Scotland and the planet.
Thumbnail image for alternativeroute.jpgWe face two serious oil-related threats, both related to burning too damn much of the stuff. First, we're warming the planet, causing climatic instability and a variety of other symptoms. Second, we're at or near the peak of global oil production, currently burning four barrels for every one we discover.

Some believe the end of cheap oil will provide a natural limit on climate change emissions. Superficially tempting, but simply wrong. More likely we'll see increasing efforts to extract dirtier fuels, like oil from tar shale and coal, ready or not for the fantasy of carbon capture.

Then there are the denialists. Some of them, like wingnut Tory MP and Dan Hannan acolyte Douglas Carswell, don't accept the science either on anthropogenic climate change or on oil output. Apparently it's all a cover for radical and anti-democratic Marxists determined to reconfigure the West.

I'd love it if they were right on the science. Imagine the climate experts and geologists were both wrong: there's actually unlimited oil, and we can burn it without consequences. I'd do a lot more flying, for a start. I'd rather not be spending much of my life trying to push Governments to do the right thing. 

The trouble for Carswell and Plimer, etc, is that the evidence for both climate change and peak oil has never faced any serious challenge, and they can't do much more than point to polls. Proper polls are good tests of public opinion and political preference (we've been getting good mileage recently from some YouGov numbers on the deeply unpopular Forth Bridge amongst other things), but they aren't a good test of factual premises. Medieval pollsters no doubt would have found plenty of support for flat-earthism: so what?

The reality is that these threats are properly scary once understood, and many people prefer reassurance to troublesome realities. The ceaseless tide of unsubstantiated bullshit from Carswell, Plimer and others gives just enough cover for many to doubt the need to change. "Opinion is divided", they can say. 

It reminds me of a cartoon I saw but now can't find. A billboard on the left of the frame says "Rigorous Scientific Research" and one to the right says "Rumour, Myth and Fiction". Two rabbits sit in the middle. One says to the other: "Surely the truth has to be somewhere in between?"

If we do enough to avert the worst consequences of climate change it will have been despite the best efforts of the wingnuts, some of whom are about to enter Government at a UK level. If we fail, they will have an almost unimaginable amount to answer for.

The cost of power.

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nothanks.jpgSuddenly, as impotence looms, Labour have gone nuclear in a major way. They aren't really making a decision, they're just clearing the way for the Tories to do so, and guaranteeing that Her Majesty's Loyal Opposition will sit idly by after the election.

Nuclear remains, of course, uneconomic, which is why no stations have been built here since the dog days of the last Tory administration. If Ministers want it, we'll have to pay. The Telegraph confirms that: an average household bill will go up by £227 if this goes ahead.

Meanwhile, over at the Times, they're telling us we'll also be soaked for the £9.5bn cost of carbon capture and storage, which currently doesn't work anywhere. That's just a starting estimate based on 15 years' worth of levy, but the final figure could be twice that over 30 years. 

If we're going to pay out massive sums to support our future power needs, why on earth won't Labour, the Tories or even the Lib Dems push effective clean energy rather than these costly technological dead ends?

The time I debated Nick Griffin.

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Thumbnail image for peakoil.jpgIn 2005 Mark Ballard and I went to a conference at the Chamber Street museum on the topic of peak oil. It was very informative, full of oil industry professionals as well as the renewables crowd, chaired by a BBC journalist and very alarming.

Coming out of one session Mark saw a familiar face in the crowd - the man at the centre of today's media storm, Nick Griffin. 

He had a false name and organisation on his badge (the latter was something like "Verity", but not "Veritas", I don't recall exactly), but there's no mistaking him for anyone else, not even any of the "comedy" Nazis from Allo Allo

If you're ever unsure it's him, the glass eye is the dead giveaway. It is a replacement for the one he claims he lost when he left live ammunition on a bonfire, and it always looks over your shoulder, as if he's awaiting reinforcements. 

We made our way over and engaged him in conversation, just because it seems wrong to let a fascist just stand there unchallenged. It was not a polite conversation. 

I raised two vile BNP policies, one on deporting non-British born citizens and one on providing guns to all over-18s. Effectively, he'd be telling some British citizens that their parents, also British citizens, have to be sent back to countries they may have not seen for decades, then he'd give the younger generation guns. Did he have other plans to trigger a race war? Cue some bluster and counter-assertion.

He also denied he was a racist, but a breath later said he'd obviously not let his children marry a non-white person. He then went into a massive rant about the evil Americans which I'm not planning to air here, and I ended calling him a revolting fascist.

I'm not proud of this encounter, although I'm glad there was a crowd around us, not least because the boot boy over his shoulder turned out to be a member of Combat 18 with a history of (no, you'll never believe this) racially motivated violence.

I discovered that a smarter environmentalist from the audience had also approached him later. He played dumb and just asked Griffin about his interest in the issue of peak oil.

The answer was telling - the public turn to the right when faced with economic hard times and social dislocation, he said, and the end of the easy oil economy would put him into Downing Street during the 2020s.

The consequences of imminent oil depletion are grave even before you look at the politics of it, and I've done my best with Green colleagues to raise the issue and the need to give a serious response. Preparing for the next oil price spike and the end of cheap energy will require much the same policy shift as is required to tackle climate change, so there's every reason just to get on with it. 

Those of us in mainstream parties put a lot of time and effort knocking the neo-nazi BNP, and for understandable reasons. Fine, but it'd be a lot more constructive to work together on zero-carbon energy and coincidentally make Nick Griffin's grim fantasy even more unlikely.

The King's Kingsnorth North.

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kingalex.jpgThe demise of the proposed Kingsnorth coal power station, announced last night by E:ON, was greeted with jubilation by Greens and other environmental activists. E:ON can now get back to their core business of protecting donkeys with solar powered fences. For some reason a story about that makes it to their media release archive, while Kingsnorth is neglected.

The next scandalous project of this sort in our firing line, and opposed by others like the RSPB, is the new coal plant planned at Hunterston. The SNP sneaked it into the National Planning Framework (2Mb pdf) right at the last minute, four months after the consultation closed, and their Ministers claim the plant will be "carbon capture ready", which is about as reassuring as "don't worry darling, it's condom ready".

The local campaign against the new Hunterston project is here, and STV did a good report last month about their legal challenge to the NPF. I hope they win, but either way efforts to block it will continue. 

NASA's James Hansen, the father of climate science, describes coal plants as "factories of death", and Hunterston is now front and centre in the campaign to make sure no more are ever built in this country. The SNP are yet again on the wrong side in the carbon wars, and both King Coal and King Alex will have to be stopped.

Via Climate Progress, here’s a little bit of quality speed-reading from the US House of Representatives’ discussion of the Waxman-Markey climate change legislation. If Stage 2 starts to drag in the committee Patrick chairs, perhaps something similar can be worked out.

And yes, that’s the Moustache of Justice you can see there.

Check out the sexy slow pans here, check out the sheer scale of the ambition. More please, onshore and offshore.

The developer discusses it on EuroTrib, and thanks to Greig for the spot.
patrickcouncillorshunterston.jpgHaving spent years campaigning against nuclear power stations, it was odd to find ourselves inside one today (left), taking a tour and discussing energy policy with the team at Hunterston.

The place itself is extraordinary: a layer of 1950s technology (including the control stations), a layer of 1970s technology, then laptops and the odd bit of more recent cruft. No doughnuts, though.

For all the complex arguments to and fro about nuclear, it's pretty clear when you go round that this is the most complicated and risky way yet invented to make power, however many layers of safety procedures they put in.

The good news for the nice people we met today, though, is that we'll need all their skills to help us decommission these beasts when their life extensions run out. The sooner the better.

Trust the public.

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climateprotestaustralia.jpgHowever engaging the polling figures are on the ups and downs of the Tory lead over Labour (wait a minute, there's one guy holding both puppets!), ComRes in today's IoS has a more interesting stat for environmentalists.

83% of those polled said they were "ready to make significant changes to the way I live to help prevent global warming or climate change", actually slightly up since the start of global financial meltdown.

A recent Yale and George Mason survey in the States also came up with some eye-catching numbers on this issue. 69% of Americans said the US should sign up to an international treaty designed to reduce emissions by 90% by 2050. 

What's more, it's not just "we'll do it if everyone else does": the same survey shows 67% of Americans saying they should reduce their emissions regardless of what other countries do, with just 4% hardcore climate change deniers supporting no emissions reductions at all.

That 90% by 2050 figure is so radical that in this country only the Scottish Green Party and the Tyndall Centre for Climate Research back it, incidentally. Next time the SNP, Labour or the Liberals tell you they back radical action on climate change, tell them even the much-judged average American is ahead of them.

Comrade aviators.

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gangoffour.jpgA frank and open exchange of views is going on down south between real Greens, specifically former London mayoral candidate Siân Berry, and some people who get billed as lower-case-g greens, notably George Monbiot. 

To complicate things an actual upper-case-G Green candidate in Oxford also went nuclear, allowing the Independent to go to town on us. 

The absurdity of the piece is made obvious when you see that one of the greens they cite as having had a road-to-Sellafield conversion is a former Labour cabinet Minister with a 100% record of backing nuclear power.

The battle proper kicked off when Siân put this piece up on her blog, criticising Monbiot's sell-out on nuclear power, and more seriously, attacking their haircuts (Monbiot, Lynas, Tindale and Goodall, left). 

Her arguments on nuclear were sound, but it was the following section that appeared to get his goat in particular:

"Like the young women mentioned above, these chaps have a few physical and biographical characteristics in common, largely a tendency to be over 45 with the haircut of a WW2 fighter pilot and the experience to know better than play so crudely into the hands of an industry on the make."

It's hard to deny that the four of them would fit in, visually, in the cockpit of a Spitfire. Goodall, bottom on the left, looks more like he's been promoted and flying a desk by now, but it turns out that her charge was particularly apt for him. He commented on her blog as folllows:

"Unlike those conchies Monbiot and Lynas, I was actually trained to be a fighter pilot."

No such good humour was forthcoming from Monbiot, who instead decided to take his plane on a kamikazi assault on the Green Party, Guardian megaphone in hand. His shameful straw man job on her arguments was followed by a declaration that he's not going to vote Green again. 

It's obviously his right to take the huff about the haircut crack (see how easy those straw men are, George?), and if he wants to find a pro-nuclear party to vote for there are plenty of options. 

He'll find Labour, the Tories and the Liberals just as weak as they ever were on all the other climate issues, though. 

On one side there's a clear explanation of the reasons why nuclear is the wrong choice, not just as the only option, but as any of the options. To quote Siân again:

"..there are so many other, less technically challenging, more job-heavy, cheaper, easier, quicker, etc etc projects out that would balance energy needs with production and cut carbon at the same time."

On the other side, there are four people who should know better giving succour to the backers of the most unsafe and uneconomic form of power ever implemented, pretending it's a proper low-carbon, affordable and sustainable technology, and doing so in the pages of the red-tops

They're entitled to their opinions, but I just wish the media wouldn't keep calling them environmentalists. If a former SNP politician or independence activist came out for the Union, it'd be news, sure, but it wouldn't be a split in nationalism, it'd be someone leaving nationalism. 

I'm with the Wrens on this one, tempting as it is to side with the peacemakers. Also, is there something in the water in Oxford?

The Prime Proliferator.

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shahirannukes.jpgOne of the substantial pleasures about McCain's defeat last year was the repudiation of his Bomb Bomb Bomb, Bomb Bomb Iran approach to Middle East politics (youtube). It's almost hard to remember that there was so much talk about another war just months ago, despite the fact that it would clearly have made the Iraq invasion look like a teddy-bear's picnic.

How quickly things have changed. Gordon Brown not only supports the Iranian civilian nuclear programme, but threatens them with sanctions if they don't develop it. It's like the 1970s all over. The truly odd thing here is that even George Bush opposed Iran's plans to go nuclear. OK, he wanted to terminate it with a demented bombing run, but at least he linked civilian nuclear power to military nuclear proliferation. What on earth is Brown up to?

Perhaps coincidentally, there has also been an extraordinarily high volume of spin on show in the BBC coverage of nuclear power over the last couple of days. Here's just a few samples.

"No cost-effective low-carbon technology should be off-limits", including nuclear, according to Lewis Macdonald MSP on Newsnight. He's obviously not seen the numbers - nuclear emits about four times more CO2 than renewables, and will cost us billions and billions once you take into account waste, decommissioning and all the rest. He also claimed that "nuclear waste issues have been resolved". I take it he's found a way to convert these dangerous materials into butterflies and champagne.

Moving on, the British Energy person on GMS this morning said we have had "an almost utopian mix" of generation in Scotland - that would be one which in 2006 included 59% climate-busting coal, oil and gas, plus 26% coming from expensive, unsafe and unreliable nuclear stations. He also claimed that on a typical day nuclear provides 66% of Scotland's electricity, which is proper lies (see that 2006 data above). 

Anyone would think they've got a pig in a poke to sell us. And the Iranians.

Nuclear foundation.

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nuclearcake.jpgThe Renewable Energy Foundation sound like a nice lot, don't they? One imagines them funding labs full of researchers in white coats looking to make solar panels more efficient, or perhaps contemplating efficient grid connections for remote renewables projects to supply our cities.

Instead, they're actually a pro-nuke and anti-wind lobbying group, made respectable by their name and nothing more. They're backed by the radioactive Ian Fells, who some have harsher words for, and the demagogue Noel Edmonds.

They're also hosting a conference next week, with Tavish Scott as the keynote speaker. Could this be related to the fact that his former MSP colleague Euan Robson has also taken REF's irradiated shilling? Surely the Liberals aren't warming up to go nuclear as the basis for another ill-conceived line of attack on the SNP?

Oil be damned.

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Thumbnail image for rigdown.jpgAnother round of 1970s documents about oil and nationalism, another round of nationalist frothing about oil and the conniving English. The BBC claims that "between 25 and 30 billion barrels could still be recovered over the next 40 years", which is presumably what the SNP press release claimed. 

To be absolutely clear again, North Sea oil peaked in 1999. There is still oil out there, obviously, but it's becoming harder and more expensive to access. Chris Skrebowski of the Energy Institute set out the situation we find ourselves in in May last year:

"Alex Salmond's predictions are simply wrong. Even with optimistic assumptions about future North Sea oil production, and even if Scotland was allocated all of that production, an independent Scotland would be likely to be a net importer of oil by 2015 or 2016. By that stage, given the global decline in output which has already begun, we will have to buy oil on the open market for two or three times the current price. It's completely fraudulent to suggest that Scotland can just live off its oil wealth now."

An even more pessimistic prognosis was provided by Keith Kohl of Energy & Capital in 2007, who observed that "the expected rate of decline could virtually eliminate oil production in the North Sea over the next five years!", just after the next Scottish election.

The argument about whose oil it is, or whose oil it was, is therefore irrelevant as well as dull. Whether we become independent or not, our future lies in those abundant renewables Scotland has been blessed with. The same would have been true by now even if devolution had been established in the 1970s.

Every minute the SNP spend attacking Whitehall over oil is a waste of time that could be spent making ourselves independent from oil, as is every minute the Labour Party spends defending itself. Get over it and get on with the job.
pelamisvertical.jpgI genuinely received an email with this as a subject line. Seriously, anyone sending that doesn't understand how spam filters work. Is it ironic? Is it coincidence? Who knows. I'm sure it's real, though: it came to me to encourage me to attend a Wind Energy Performance Optimisation Summit.

Once the spammers' obsession with Viagra and the like subsides, perhaps they will start promoting renewables in the same way. I particularly look forward to invitations to Significantly Lengthen Your Wave Power Device (pictured).

The BBC did a great package for the Politics Show about the work being done in Kirklees by local Green Councillors, including Andrew Cooper, who's interviewed in the film. Glenn Campbell then discusses our budget proposals with Patrick. It's all here:

We got some very important commitments from the SNP on Wednesday, and so Robin and Patrick voted for their budget on Wednesday. For anoraks, here's the relevant bits of the day's debate:

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This page is a archive of recent entries in the Energy category.

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