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The UK Grows its Economy as it Replaces Coal with Renewable Energy

by John Brian Shannon

Great Britain has come a long way since the Industrial Revolution when it was almost completely dependent on coal.

The snapshot in time (below) covers the period May 1, 2019 through May 8, 2019 showing which energy producers contributed to the UK national energy grid and how much they contributed.

The UK was once 100% dependent on coal, but it now uses 5% coal, 19.5% nuclear, 33.3% renewable energy and 39.4% natural gas.

Image courtesy of BBC.

But in 2018, the UK met total electrical demand with 5% coal, 19.5% nuclear, 33.3% renewable energy and 39.4% natural gas. 2019 looks set to be even better from a clean air perspective. Burning coal to meet UK energy demand might reach 1% in 2019.

Every month, more wind turbines are installed and connected to the UK grid. About half of them are installed offshore (out of sight and out of mind) where they produce almost constant power 24/7/365 and are shut down only one day per year for inspection.

The other half get installed in farmers fields where they add energy to the grid day and night. Farmers like this arrangement because it adds to their bottom line as the utility companies rent the land upon which the wind turbines sit.

For example, if a farmer has one wind turbine mounted on his property, he or she will receive approximately £4000. per year from the utility company — but if the farmer has 20 wind turbines on his or her land, he or she will receive £80,000. per year for the land lease and 24-hour-per-day access rights.

In the case of larger farms, this amount could equal his/her annual spend on seeds, or in the case of ranchers, it could meet their annual veterinarian bill plus whatever the rancher spends on medicine and other treatment for their animals.

Although not as profitable as offshore wind turbines, having many electricity generators near demand centres is a definite benefit for utility companies.

The moral of this story is, adding one million wind turbines to the UK grid over the next 10-years (half of them onshore) would work to increase the profitability of farmers and ranchers, and could save them from insolvency during years of drought or flooding.

When did coal ever do that for farmers and ranchers? Never!

Wind power generation in the UK

Wind power generation in the UK theswitch.co.uk

That’s why the UK must commit to adding one million wind turbines over the next 10-years — thereby turning the UK into a major energy exporter to the EU, as the cables to transmit electrical energy are already installed and in use daily to import (expensive) gigawatts of power from the EU annually. See where I’m going here?

Adding half a million onshore wind turbines would dramatically empower farmers and ranchers, most of whom spend their profits close to home; Making land-based wind turbine economics an important force for good in local economies.

Siting those wind turbines so that they don’t trash-up the UK’s Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) will of course be an important consideration going forward.

It’s important to locate the turbines in natural wind corridors, sure, but installing them within sight of Castle Howard for one example, or within sight of major residential areas is a bad idea no matter how good the wind potential there. Careful siting of wind turbines is a must to… prevent… (wait for it!) ‘blowback’ from NIMBY communities. Hehe.

READ: The UK Has Gone 6 Days Without Burning Coal Now, And Guess What, The World Didn’t End (Science Alert)


The UK Economy Continues to Grow In Spite of the Overly-Extended Brexit Negotiating Period

UK GDP between 2014 and 2018

The statistic shows the GDP of the United Kingdom between 2014 and 2018, with projections up until 2024, in US dollars. Image courtesy of Statista.com

Say what you like about Prime Minister Theresa May (or, ‘Theresa the Appeaser’ as she is known to Brexiteers) and Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond (possibly the most risk-averse man on the planet) they did a good job running the UK economy, although in the end, they couldn’t secure a decent Brexit agreement with the EU; Which is the only reason that both of them are soon gone from their present jobs.

Ultimately, the 3-years of economic uncertainty in the UK caused by the overly-extended Brexit negotiation period prompted the removal of Theresa May from the PM’s chair, and Philip Hammond from the Exchequer’s chair once the next PM is chosen.

But imagine how the UK economy would’ve accelerated had May and Hammond accepted the ring of destiny handed to them by 17,410,742 UK voters in June 2016.

Still, when you can grow the UK economy while removing coal and adding huge quantities of renewable energy to the grid — right in the middle of Brexit — you’re obviously doing something right.

But The People called for Brexit, and Brexit it will be.


Plan Your Work, Then Work Your Plan!

Someone should thank the best Environment Secretary in Britain’s history for the massive renewable energy capacity addition to the UK grid in recent years in locations where renewable energy does make economic sense, for the astonishing CO2 reductions, and for backing energy conservation programmes that reduced energy costs £2 for each £1 of programme spend.

This is where the UK must continue to focus its greatest efforts. Where its cheaper to install renewable energy, then install renewable energy; Where its cheaper to spend on energy conservation programmes to lessen demand, then spend on conservation; And where its better to locate energy producers near energy demand centres, then locate energy producers nearer demand.

READ: Study: UK leads G7 at cutting emissions and growing economy (BusinessGreen) You must register at their site to read the article. Here’s an excerpt though: “Report shows that in the 25 years since the Rio Earth Summit the UK has delivered the best economic performance and the deepest carbon emission cuts of any G7 state.”


The UK Could Lead the World in Local Clean Air Improvements and Increased Renewable Energy Exports

On a county-by-county basis, replacing coal-fired power generation with natural gas-fired generation supplying 15% of total demand in every UK county, 65% of total demand in every UK county met via wind and solar, and hydropower and biomass covering the remaining 20% of total electricity demand in every UK county… is the fastest way to clean energy, lowered healthcare costs and increased energy exports to the continent, which should be Priority #2 of any UK Prime Minister. (Brexit is Priority #1 for now, and being a democrat, I get that)

But next on any PM’s list after the Brexit item must be growing the UK economy while replacing coal and natural gas via generous energy conservation programmes and massive renewable energy capacity additions.

READ: UK Leads G7 in the Combined Metric of Economic Growth + Carbon Cuts (LetterToBritain)

Let’s hope the UK continues its great track record in lowering CO2 emissions, lowering its annual healthcare spend on respiratory disease, and growing the economy.

The only component missing in the UK’s clean air goals are the mind-boggling opportunities that await UK energy producers to export gigawatts of renewable energy to the EU in exchange for billions of euros annually.


Bonus Graphic

Here’s a great resource where you can track in realtime, how much energy the UK is purchasing from the EU.

When the snapshot was taken, the UK national grid was purchasing 3.3 gigawatts of energy from France, the Netherlands, the Republic of Ireland, and other EU energy producers.

Snapshot of UK electricity demand

Snapshot of UK electricity demand on June 23, 2019 at 2:45pm. Click the image to access the realtime dashboard at any time.

Keep in mind that 14.70 pence per kWh is the average cost for electricity in the UK. So, yes, UK energy consumers spend billions to purchase electricity from EU utility companies annually — instead of EU utility companies purchasing billions worth of electricity from UK utility companies annually. Facepalm!


Notes:

  • One Gigawatt (GW) is equal to one million kilowatts (kW)
  • One MegaWatt (MW) is equal to one thousand kilowatts (kW)

For More Information

The U.K. Cut Emissions to the Lowest Level Since 1888. Here’s How (Fortune)

What will it take for the UK to reach net zero emissions? (The Guardian)

Floating wind farms just became a serious business (Quartz)

No Deal Brexit Preparations to begin January 1, 2019

by John Brian Shannon

Just like clockwork and as promised by the Theresa May government preparations for a possible No Deal exit from the European Union will begin on January 1, 2019. The Prime Minister has said it all along yet no one believed her, even though there were plenty of examples when she informed the media in advance on what actions she would be taking in relation to Brexit and when, and then did exactly as promised.

She didn’t keep her promise to hold the vote on the draft Withdrawal Agreement last Tuesday. However, politics isn’t like baking a cake where you simply assemble the ingredients, mix it all together, and throw it in the oven for an hour.

Forgive the Prime Minister for a promise that was broken for a good reason.

Why allow a vote when the thing you’re trying to approve will certainly fail? That would’ve wasted the time of every MP in the House of Commons and provided the EU with an advantage over the holiday season; Namely, EU officials getting to spend the holidays blaming the UK for failing to pass the draft Withdrawal Agreement which would’ve put the UK government deep into defensive territory by the time they returned to Parliament on January 7th.

Theresa May and her government have looked wobbly at times throughout the past 2.5 years, but at ‘mission critical’ points she and her ministers have delivered. Strange, but heartening.

“Through perseverance, many people win success out of what seemed destined to be certain failure.” — former British Prime Minister, Benjamin Disraeli (1804 – 1881)

The latest example of that is the kept promise to begin preparations before January 1, 2019 in case of a No Deal Brexit by ensuring enough medicine will be available for every Briton (including Theresa May’s medication for her diabetic condition) and now, the UK military has offered to assist the government in the immediate post-Brexit timeframe — including 3500 troops for government use.

Such army personnel can drive transport trucks, direct vehicular traffic at the ports, fly goods by military aircraft to remote parts of the UK, and fill any staffing or logistical gaps that could be created in the case of a sudden No Deal Brexit scenario.

It may be highly unlikely, but it’s still good policy to plan for gaps or shortages in the system.

“Plans are useless, but planning is indispensable. — former U.S. President, Ike Eisenhower (1890 – 1969)

In a fluid situation it’s a great thing to plan ahead, yet once having arrived at the ‘gap in the road’ (for example) or having arrived at a day when there actually are milk shortages (for another example) its ongoing planning that will save the day.

Ongoing resourcefulness and a permanent ‘CAN-DO’ attitude, combined with relentless pursuit of important goals is what will allow Britons to succeed every time. Ask any gold medal athlete or any 5-star general, or any platinum selling recording artist. A ‘CAN-DO’ attitude is a million times more valuable than a ‘CAN’T DO’ attitude.

It’s those qualities that Britons have displayed over the centuries that worked to create the great United Kingdom we see today; The 6th-largest economy in the world (and for a few centuries, the largest economy in the world by a significant margin!) with a very high standard of living and quality of life in the here and now.

Although all of those stats could and should be even better than they are at present, it’s still a magnificent accomplishment.


Micheal Gove & Sir Nick Carter Give Hope that there is No Problem Too Big for the UK to Handle

‘Hope’ is a powerful word. If people have hope, if they see a reasonable plan forming, and if they see people like Micheal Gove handling the worst-case scenario far in advance of any potential problems, it provides the hope that’s required for human beings to maintain a high level of life satisfaction and function most efficiently. There are more quotations about ‘Hope’ than about any other single word in the English lexicon.

“Nothing is ever a problem” must be the mantra of the Brexit Secretary if the UK’s exit from the European Union is to succeed.

Whether help from the UK military will ever be required or not, it’s good to know that General Sir Nick Carter, the Chief of the Defence Staff has reached out to Micheal Gove, the Brexit Secretary, to inform him that it’s available if needed.

That’s a government and a military infrastructure working together to ensure that nothing is ever a problem for Britons. See; Operation Yellowhammer.

In the meantime, the more and better the UK government and the UK military prepare for a No Deal Brexit, the more EU negotiators will become convinced that the UK really is leaving the EU and that they may need to modify the draft Withdrawal Agreement in order to prevent a so-called ‘Hard Brexit’ scenario — which will negatively affect the EU’s trade surplus with the UK presently running at £95 billion per year (net, £67 billion annually) and with no ability for them to replace that massive (obscene?) trade surplus anywhere else.

By virtue of Brexit Secretary, Micheal Gove, and Chief of the Defence Staff and General Sir Nick Carter working together to prepare for a No Deal Brexit, Theresa May ensures that the EU will be much easier to deal with henceforth and she can expect the Irish backstop (a red herring if there ever were one!) to be dropped from the draft Withdrawal Agreement so that the European Union’s £67 billion (net) annual trade surplus with the UK isn’t lost over something far less important.

Battle of the Fishing Boats

by John Brian Shannon

Fishing boats from France and the UK clash in International Waters Off the French Coast

Fishing boats from France and the UK clash in international waters

Fishing boats from France and the UK clash in international waters off the French coast.  Image courtesy of BBC.

While my head is with the British fishermen attacked yesterday for legally scraping for scallops in international waters, my heart is with the French fishermen who illegally attacked the British fishing boats.

It seems the French government passed a law that only French fishers must obey, but those French fishermen and fisherwomen were upset (inexplicably… not at their own government, but at the British fishers who were merely exercising their legal right to harvest scallops in international waters) and chose to throw large stones at the British boats and crews (breaking some windows in the UK fishing boats) and (dangerously) shot flares across the decks of a British fishing vessel.

It needs to be said again, that the British fishers were operating legally in international waters and following all EU and UK laws.

French law has only the power to restrict French scallop fishermen and fisherwomen — and the actions of the French crews aren’t acceptable in a civilized world.

If French fishers have a problem with French law… they need to take it up with the government of France. Full Stop! (Arrêt complet!)


Yet Another Reason to Exit the EU and the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP)

If UK fishers are expected to follow all relevant EU laws (and they do) but French fishermen aren’t expected to follow all relevant EU laws (and they don’t — that’s now proven by these latest acts of violence and intimidation) how is that fair to the British?

Fishing in UK Waters

When EU and UK fishers operate in British waters they must follow all relevant EU and UK laws even if they must toss millions of tonnes of dead fish overboard every year — because under EU law — if the fish are not of a certain size they must be thrown back (dead or alive) into the water. Which has a devastating effect on the UK fishery and the larger North Sea fishery. How could it not?

And French (or other EU boats) are never attacked by UK fishermen in international waters nor in UK waters…

Fishing in International Waters

Yet for some reason, French fishermen feel they have the right to threaten and assault UK fishers and damage British fishing vessels that are operating legally in international waters.

That’s a stark difference in mindsets between UK fishers and French fishers…

And it’s called ‘entitlement’.

French fishers feel they can assault UK fishers because they feel ‘entitled’ to do so — even though the UK boats were operating in international waters and were following all relevant fishing laws of the EU and the UK.

It’s certainly not the fault of UK fishers that the French government banned French fishers from scallop fishing from May 15 to October 15!

Feelings of ‘entitlement’ by French fishermen and fisherwomen is perhaps symptomatic of a larger problem throughout the European Union; EU citizens feel ‘entitled’ while UK citizens feel they themselves must always follow the law. See the difference in mindsets?

Perhaps it’s just one of many reasons that the first time Britons got a chance to vote on EU membership they voted to Leave… but I’m sure that reasoning (causality?) was lost on those French fishermen during the heated exchange at sea.

Let’s hope the UK fishers take the French fishers/vandals to the European Court of Justice (ECJ) and that damages are awarded to the innocent UK fishers. If not, we’ll know that the EU doesn’t practice what it preaches…