Simple Arithmetic: Why Net Zero Emissions Targets Will Never Be Met By Wind & Solar

Net zero carbon dioxide emissions targets are just the latest wheeze to grip our political betters, driven by climate alarmists and rent seekers ready to profit from the wind and solar subsidy scam.

The idea that modern economies can function without the energy generated by fossil-fuels (whether consumed by motorcars or in power generation) is up there with living on Mars and perpetual motion machines.

And yet, there are plenty paying lip service to a concept that has the engineers who built the systems upon which we rely, thoroughly flummoxed. One of them, Mike Travers CEng, MIMechE, FIET spent twenty years in the Royal Engineers and in the 1960s ran a Geodetic Satellite Tracking Station. In the 1970s he worked in the hydroelectric sector on the Columbia and Snake River systems in the USA. He was also a member of the IET Wiring Regulations Committee. In the 1980s he was in the design, construction and then operations teams of a large hydrocarbon cracker. He was the industry representative on the committee that rewrote the Grid Codes for Scotland. He finished his career as the engineering director of a fine chemicals company.

Travers takes a look at the colossal hidden costs for households if the net zero nonsense was ever fully unleashed.

The Hidden Cost of Net Zero: Rewiring the UK
Global Warming Policy Foundation
Mike Travers
July 2020

Summary
Plans to decarbonise the economy will probably require homeowners to install:

  • heat pumps
  • electric vehicle charging points
  • electric showers
  • other electric devices.

The extra demand for electricity will overwhelm most domestic fuses, thus requiring homeowners to install new ones, as well as circuit-breakers and new distribution boards. Most will also have to rewire between their main fuse and the distribution network. In urban areas, where most electrical cabling is underground, this will involve paying for a trench to be dug between the home and the feeder circuits in the street.

In addition, increased demand along a street will mean that the distribution network will need to be upgraded too. This will involve installing larger cables and replacing distribution transformers with larger ones. Most urban streets will need to be dug up. In rural areas, where electricity is normally carried on overhead cables, it may be possible to just replace the wires, but it is more likely that cabling will have to be buried instead.

The cost to the country of rewiring alone will probably exceed £200 billion, or over £7,000 per household. This figure excludes the cost of new equipment, such as EV chargers, heat pumps and electric showers.

1. Introduction
I am sure every one of us in the UK supports cutting waste, not polluting the oceans with plastic, collecting our rubbish (though people are still throwing tons of waste out of car windows), reducing discharges of all types into our fragile atmosphere and still maintaining a reasonable lifestyle. To do this we need to plan, engineer and build in a sensible way. What we cannot afford to do is inflate electricity prices and other costs: this will simply result in manufacturing industry leaving the country and the export of our carbon dioxide emissions.

Nevertheless, businesses and consumers have been facing steadily increasing electricity bills for the last 12 years. Average domestic prices have risen from 6p to 16p per unit. That is more than 150% in 12 years, faster than any other commodity. This is partly the result of poor planning of the system. Engineers have long since lost control of the electrical supply, and the regulators, accountants, and lawyers who now hold sway have conspired to prevent sensible improvements to the system. As my father used to say, ‘An engineer can do for sixpence what any damn fool could do for half-a-crown’.

But a great deal of the extra cost can be put down to efforts to decarbonise the electricity system. Gas turbines can generate electricity at a quarter of the cost of wind turbines, so the focus on renewables means it is inevitable that prices will go up. Add in the cost of dealing with the intermittency, and the bill to be paid becomes very high indeed. As we head towards a fully decarbonised grid, the expense will become truly astronomical. We even have to pay windfarms to switch off. These so-called ‘constraint payments’ reached £140 million in 2019.

And the hit to consumers’ pockets is going to become worse still as the scope of government plans moves beyond the electricity system and into people’s daily lives. They have been encouraging homeowners to install more insulation, or even forcing electricity companies to do so, for 20 years now (although even the most economical measures, like loft insulation, will be hard to justify if the house is not made airtight at the same time; retrofitting more extensive measures is prohibitively expensive). But as electric cars and heat pumps are made compulsory, considerable upheaval and, of course, much more cost is coming the way of the British householder. Some of these impacts have already been the subject of considerable public discussion. This paper considers some other important costs and public inconveniences that have not received so much attention.

A summary of the document sections

2. The coming changes

  • Electric car charging
  • Selling power back to the grid
  • Heating
  • Hot water and showers
  • Ventilation and heat exchanges

3. Dealing with overloads in the home

4. Net zero and the distribution grid

  • Managing demand
  • Upgrading the wiring
    • Service cables
    • Feeder circuits
    • Distribution transformer

5. Cost Summary

6. Some practical difficulties

  • Where are the cables?
  • Whose smart meter is it that needs upgrading?
  • Who is on what phase?
  • And another thing?

7. Who should be looking into these problems?

Global Warming Policy Foundation

‘The Hidden Costs of Net Zero’
The Pipeline
John O’Sullivan
28 July 2020

In last week’s column I argued that in dealing with the threats of climate change, our best approach would be to forget labels like “climate denialism” and “climate alarmism,” make a fair accounting of the problems, and set about tackling them practically. When I advocated this approach of “climate practicality,” I was thinking in Big Picture terms: How best should we allocate scarce resources between adapting to climate change and seeking to mitigate it, for instance? Or between generating energy mainly from fossil fuels, as now, or from “renewables,” or from going nuclear? Where will our money get the best results?

Answering those Big Picture questions is obviously necessary, indeed unavoidable, but it’s also very difficult to answer them well, i.e, convincingly, because they contain so many variables. It’s somewhat easier (though still hard) to examine the practicality of specific policies from the standpoint not only of governments which propose and implement them but also of the ordinary citizens who have to live with their impact.

That’s done with deep practical expertise and occasional dry wit in a new monograph from the Global Warming Policy Foundation titled ReWiring the UK: the Hidden Costs of Net Zero by Mike Travers, a distinguished engineer with wide experience in that most practical of disciplines.

I am sure every one of us in the UK supports cutting waste, not polluting the oceans with plastic, collecting our rubbish (though people are still throwing tons of waste out of car windows), reducing discharges of all types into our fragile atmosphere and still maintaining a reasonable lifestyle. To do this we need to plan, engineer and build in a sensible way. What we cannot afford to do is inflate electricity prices and other costs: this will simply result in manufacturing industry leaving the country and the export of our carbon dioxide emissions.

Travers starts with the problem, which is that electricity prices have been rising sharply in the U.K.: “[B]usinesses and consumers have been facing steadily increasing electricity bills for the last 12 years. Average domestic prices have risen from 6p to 16p per unit. That is more than 150 percent in twelve years, faster than any other commodity. This is partly the result of poor planning of the system.”

And why is that? Travers first gives vent to an understandable professional pique that “[e]ngineers have long since lost control of the electrical supply, and the regulators, accountants, and lawyers who now hold sway have conspired to prevent sensible improvements to the system.”

His second explanation, however, goes to the nub of the problem, which is that rising electricity prices stem mainly from government policies to “decarbonize the economy’” (i.e. the hidden costs of the monograph’s title), as the country switches from gas turbines to the much more expensive wind turbines to generate electcicity and move towards net zero carbon emissions.

As we head towards a fully decarbonised grid, the expense will become truly astronomical. We even have to pay windfarms to switch off. These so-called ‘constraint payments’ reached £140 million in 2019.

Rising electricity prices from decarbonization are a major problem, especially so when consumers are facing harder times as the cumulative impact of Covid-19 and the lockdowns kicks in, but they are far from the only negative results. For the U.K. government, though headed by an easy-going optimististic prime minister in Boris Johnson, is committed to requiring ordinary Brits to make major changes in their life-styles that will mean imposing heavier costs on them as both consumers, electricity users, and taxpayers. For instance, the government has already announced that it is making a transition to electric cars compulsory by 2035—and that regulation will include hybrid cars. Nor is it likely to be only such regulation. Brits will also be required to install in their homes such other devices as heat pumps and electric vehicle charging points.

The cost of installing EV charging points alone will be a considerable one. Travers estimates that it will be of the order of 31 billion pounds. But that’s small beer compared to the overall losses from the installation and use of all the additional electric devices needed for decarbonization (italics mine):

The extra demand for electricity will overwhelm most domestic fuses, thus requiring homeowners to install new ones, as well as circuit-breakers and new distribution boards. Most will also have to rewire between their main fuse and the distribution network. In urban areas, where most electrical cabling is underground, this will involve paying for a trench to be dug between the home and the feeder circuits in the street. In addition, increased demand along a street will mean that the distribution network will need to be upgraded too. This will involve installing larger cables and replacing distribution transformers with larger ones. Most urban streets will need to be dug up. The cost to the country of rewiring alone will probably exceed £200 billion, or over £7,000 per household. This figure excludes the cost of new equipment, such as EV chargers, heat pumps and electric showers.

That’s the total impact on householders. It’s alarming. But the details of how many of these centrally-imposed regulations will impact the individual householder is where Travers shines. Here he is, for instance, on heat pumps:

The best alternative is a ground-source heat pump (GSHP), which extracts heat from the earth, using a network of buried pipes. However, that requires a lot of space, so they are really only an option for people who own significant plots of land or can afford the alternative of drilling a borehole. The total cost in a new house for installing a GSHP is likely to be £18,000, or four times the present cost of an oil or gas heating system. The alternative is an air-source heat pump (ASHP), which might cost £10,000, gives energy gains rather less than GSHPs, and suffers from major reductions in efficiency in cold weather.

Even an attentive reader of the serious press would not guess one tenth of the upheavals and cost additions that electric vehicles and heat pumps alone by themselves are likely to cause the Brits—and thus to government ministers when voters realize that what these high-sounding moral principles will mean in practice.

If Ministers pay heed to Travers on the costs and practicality of their policies, they will reconsider de-carbonization and look instead at going nuclear or choosing adaptation over mitigation. But practicality and government live increasingly separate lives—the former in this world, the latter in Utopia. And a reconciliation between them is probably a catastrophe away.
The Pipeline

And the solution would be???

About stopthesethings

We are a group of citizens concerned about the rapid spread of industrial wind power generation installations across Australia.

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