Guest post by Martin Brumby

Chris Buff Huhne: “The Expert

So Buff Huhne announces the launch of “The 2050 Pathways Debate: having an energy-literate conversation about the UK’s options to 2050”.

Leading climate and energy experts will use the 2050 pathways calculator to present their personal view of how the UK can reduce its emissions by at least 80% by 2050, ahead of the online debate being opened to the wider public. Perhaps he has convinced himself that he is “energy-literate”?

It is interesting that when he introduced the Electricity Market Reforms Consultation to the House of Commons on 16 December 2010, Huhne stated:

The challenges and the opportunities are huge. Put simply, we face growing demand, shrinking supply and ambitious emissions reductions targets: demand for electricity could double by 2050 as we decarbonise the economy; 30% of our electricity must come from renewables by 2020—up from 7% today—to meet our contribution to the European Union’s renewable energy target; and in the next 10 years, a quarter of our existing power plants will need to be replaced, as nuclear and coal plants reach the end of their lives.

Of course The Luhnatic wants the 2020 target to be 30% (and the 2050 target to be 100%) – without Nuclear.  See the Lib Dims’ Election manifesto.  But it is interesting how he deliberately misleads the house of Commons in his statement. I refer to his phrase “up from 7% today”. Really?  Does this stand up to scrutiny?

Now Buff Huhne must be aware that the proportions of different electricity generation are (if you know where to find them) available on the web. This gives the amount of electricity fed into the grid half hour by half hour and figures for the last three months is available to download. At the time I’m writing this, Coal is producing around 41% of the total, gas 37%, nuclear 16% and so on. All the 3000+ wind turbines in the UK are managing just 0.7% – or a tenth of Buff Huhne’s figure.

(Click to enlarge)

So which is nearer the truth, 7%, 0.7%, or what?

It turns out that for 33 half-hour periods in the whole of 2010, the total of Big Wind and Hydro (which actually works, of course) managed 7% or more. Let’s be generous and assume he’s rounding up the figures. So 78 half-hour periods exceeded 6.5%, making 39 hours out of a total 8760 hours in the year. The figures are just fractionally better in you add in Pumped Storage, but to count PS as “renewable” means you can’t pump using fossil fuel electricity.

(Click to enlarge)

So Buff Huhne’s 7% claim isn’t just a bit hyped up. It is flat wrong.

Saying 7% of our electricty comes from renewables is about as accurate as my saying I spent all my time during 2010 having coitus. In both cases just wishful thinking I’m afraid. But we are the ones getting shafted by the Luhnatic and his “experts”.

Update: Please note an important correction I need to make here. It is detailed in this comment.  Apologies for the error.

19 Responses to “Guest post by Martin Brumby”

  1. 1 microdave 04/03/2011 at 1:45 pm

    Would you buy a used car from this man? – And I mean a toy pedal car…

    I don’t see how Pumped storage can be classed as “Renewable” in any way shape or form. It’s purely a short term boost for the grid, regardless of how the water is pumped in the first place.

  2. 2 permanentexpat 04/03/2011 at 2:28 pm

    For the life of me I don’t know why we actually put up with this crap. Why does the HoC put up with blatant untruths? Why does Cameron who, although a devious cnut & cannot be that stupid, not scotch the lies for what they are.
    Our wonderful electorate which should tar & feathewr this destructive nutcase will, of course, believe anything told it.

  3. 3 Vernon E 04/03/2011 at 2:46 pm

    Sorry to keep going on but the figures for wind are deceptive and plain wrong. The BENEFICAL power output (over a year say) from a wind turbine, because the wind is variable and unpredicable, is only about ten percent of the nameplate because around half is delivered when its not needed – night and summer etc. So the useful power is nearer to 0.35% than 0.7% and Huhne as we all know is a dickhead.

  4. 4 Liz Elliot-Pyle 04/03/2011 at 3:55 pm

    WHY DOES HE DO THIS???? Chris Huhne cannot be a complete idiot – I gather he has done rather well for himself in business before entering the HoC – and yet he cant seem to see the nose on the front of his face. Does no one in his department point out to him when he is getting things wrong? Does no one read any of the blogs that show overwhelmingly that the ‘science’ is wrong?
    Is there something in it for him? If he were receiving huge backhanders from the wind industry it might explain why he does this – but as far as I am aware, he is not.
    Or is he?

  5. 5 Liz Elliot-Pyle 04/03/2011 at 3:57 pm

    Furthermore, I never thought that a face would irritate me as much as a picture of Gordon Brown – but Chris Huhne comes fairly close. He always looks so PLEASED with himself.

  6. 6 cosmic 04/03/2011 at 5:14 pm


    Because when Huhne was in business he was kept in contact with reality, the purpose of being in business to make money; lose sight of that and the business goes bust or you get the boot.

    Party politics and government is a cozy club which has the means to defy economic reality to an amazing extent, printing money, running up debts for future generations to pay off and all the rest of it. Its members manage to do very nicely for themselves in present rewards, pensions, future jobs etc. They’re largely insulated from reality and living in their own self referential world.

    The tackling climate change agenda suits the club very well and anyone questioning it is likely to be black-balled. The Climate Change Act was passed with something like half a dozen dissenters. One of the ways to get on is to be greener than thou. You won’t get anywhere by questioning the wisdom of wind power for instance. There’s such a lack of basic scientific and engineering knowledge in the club that you’d be talking in riddles anyway, it would go against the group think and the consequences of acting on what you said would be to make the club far less cozy.

    Huhne in any case is a member of a political party which has specialised in painless, magical solutions to problems which can’t be solved without pain, offered up in the fairly safe assumption that they’d never be in power and would not have to do these things or take responsibility for them.

  7. 7 Katabasis 04/03/2011 at 6:16 pm

    Before I’d even got to the rest of your analysis, I read that 7% figure and groaned.

    This insane trainwreck has departed from reality. I just don’t understand how he could be in charge of something so crucially important as energy and how or why no one else of influence has pointed out that not only is he naked but also inside out.

  8. 8 Derek Reynolds 04/03/2011 at 7:43 pm

    Anyone who looks like he does, and does not see how ridiculous he looks, has got to be the most likely candidate for a Minister leading a department that is the equivalent of a train running off Beach Head.

    May he crash and burn.

    Pinched the train analogy – sorry Katabasis! Just been reading Rolt’s ‘Red for Danger’. Seems to apply to any colour of politics.

  9. 9 Derek Reynolds 04/03/2011 at 7:50 pm

    Just looked at neta. The last 24 hrs wind power has supplied exactly 0.7% of demand. Likewise Hydro pumped storage.

  10. 10 Geoffrey David Maskens 04/03/2011 at 8:05 pm

    I sent that perversely ignorant innumerate Huhne a recommended book list including ‘The Wind-farm Scam’ and Prof David J C MacKay’s ‘Renewable Energy Without the Hot Air’, both well worth reading.

    The response – nothing!! Are you surprised? My own Conservative MP is well aware of the futility of windmills except for enhancing the income of the manufacturers, the ‘feed-in tariff’ pirates and the crooked ‘cap-and-trade’ fraternity.

    But because he is not on the right committee, he can have no direct influence. I can only hope that there is informed, angry tea-room talk. What a way to run a country!

    As an engineer, I have been writng letters to the press for twenty years on this topic, but not one has been published.

  11. 11 Bruce 04/03/2011 at 10:47 pm

    The biggest saddest side effect of the AGW scam is that scientists and politicans now believe that have a right and responsiblity to lie to us peons because we don’t know what is good for us.

  12. 12 Lynne 05/03/2011 at 8:10 am

    Just a little more sanding down and my tumbrel will be ready for action…

  13. 13 Brian H 05/03/2011 at 9:00 am

    Since the .7 became 7, we can assume that the 80% will actually end up as 8. Everything being relative, and all.

  14. 14 Edmh 05/03/2011 at 9:12 am

    To understand the absolute futility of Climate Control by limiting CO2 emissions have a look at

    It also explains the isolation of the EU and one or two other Nations who are on the road to self destruction. In short only about 15% of world CO2 emissions are now controlled and 22% of world emissions in the underdeveloped or developing world are expecting to benefit from the self destruction of the a part of the developed world.

  15. 15 Brian H 05/03/2011 at 10:55 am

    Lynne 05/03/2011 at 8:10 am

    Just a little more sanding down and my tumbrel will be ready for action…

    Sanding? To spare the malefactors from splinters? Stop at once!

  16. 16 meltemian 05/03/2011 at 12:25 pm

    Lynne & Brian,
    I’m pretty good at knitting – can I be of any help?

  17. 17 Nick Blitz 05/03/2011 at 12:26 pm

    re permanentexpat – timed at 2:28pm on 4th –

    Your response would benefit from being clearer about WHO is the focus of your wrath!

    Were you disagreeing/slagging off the author of this intelligent item, Mr Brumby?

    Or was the object of your wit that Westminster goon, Huhne?

    Surely GOOD communication is CLEAR communication.

    I make that comment after dismissing any outside possibility that you were indulging in some foreign variant of irony – effectively suggesting, ‘a plague on all your houses’.

    THAT of course now constitutes, ‘LAST YEAR’S WESTMINSTER STORY’ – courtesy of the Daily Torygraph.

    BTW – I see/read input from this guest columnist quite regularly …and while we were both active in different, even opposed, political parties, I unhesitatingly suggest that his output is invariably well-researched.

    Wild horses -even Aussie ones- wouldn’t see me suggest otherwise!

  18. 18 AJC 05/03/2011 at 11:44 pm

    The loon has another cunning plan …

    Oil prices: Urgent steps needed to wean UK onto other energy sources, MPs say

  19. 19 Martin Brumby 06/03/2011 at 10:52 am

    I’m afraid there is apparently a correction needed to my posting.

    If you look at:-

    both Philip Bratby & Brownedoff comment (not about my posting!) that the NETA figures (upon which my charts and comments are based) only include about half of the installed capacity of wind in their figures. See Bishop Hill blog comments on that threasd from Mar 6, 2011 at 7:14 AM.

    We can be sure that both Bratby and Brownedoff aren’t shills for BigWind.

    But it does seem an extraordinary way to run a railroad. So we have presumably the correct UK figures for oil / gas / coal / nuclear / hydro / French interconnectors but only (around) half the figures for wind. Without a note, a warning or any explanation.


    Anyway, for what it is worth, I’ve recalculated using wind=wind*2.

    This isn’t very good and I’m certain that the ‘missing half’ is OH! SO MUCH better than the half that they share with us. But anyway:-

    Minimum 0.11 MW / Average 2.85 MW / Median value 2.15 MW / Maximum 14.26 MW (all ½ hour values) Total “renewable” generation in 2010 25.0GWh. (Hey! If we had four times as many windmills that would be as much as Drax can generate in a day!).

    The number of half hour periods exceeding 6.5% now weighs in at 1497. Or a month.

    So apologies if I have inadvertently mislead. But, coming back to the subject of my post, hands up all those who think that it is even slightly accurate to say that “almost 7% of our electricity comes from renewables”?

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