* Posts by scatter

114 posts • joined 29 May 2009

Smart meters are 'massive surveillance' tech - privacy supremo


Got a reference for this?

"That might sound fanciful, but researchers have already demonstrated that the pattern of energy consumed by a decent flat-screen TV can be used to work out what programme is being watched..."

This is the second time this has been suggested here in the last week or so but I'm sceptical about the ability to do this via smart meters which give an overall power consumption for a house every five seconds.

I can see you could probably do it in a lab with sensitive power meters but at a resolution of 5 seconds and with all the other noise you get from other devices...?

We'll pull the plug on info-leak smart meters, warns UK.gov


Re: How the hell do they work that out?

Yeah I reckon that's tosh as well. I reckon you could make a reasonable guess when someone turned a TV on that it is a TV from the change in electricity consumption and time of use, but not what make or model it is with any degree of certainty. It's hardly sensitive data anyway so it's irrelevant. The other bits about occupancy are much more significant.

How politicians could end droughts forever But they don't want to


Re: "What is the cost of keeping this plant operating under capacity?"

Well it doesn't actually tell us anything about the costs of undercapacity... and the costs of having 15 plants which are almost never operating? Who is going to finance that?


Emisisons & Cost

Ah another 'Analysis' from Lewis. Some crude back of the envelope calculations:

Greenhouse gas emissions from desalination are by no means trivial. Assuming that the 7kWh per tonne figure is correct then this equates to greenhouse gas emissions of 3.4kgCO2 per tonne (based on 0.48644kgCO2e/kWh). Current ghg intensity of water supply in the UK is 0.34kgCO2e per tonne so we're talking about supplying water with 10 times the GHG emissions as is done currently.

http://archive.defra.gov.uk/environment/business/reporting/pdf/110819-guidelines-ghg-conversion-factors.pdf for the factors

And people who hate on renewables (i.e. The Register) are always telling us how having backup plant is wasteful and expensive. But here Lewis is proposing constructing a load of desalination plants for the occasional drought. What is the cost of keeping this plant operating under capacity?

They're also telling us how renewables are putting intolerable burdens on our energy bills but here Lewis is suggesting adding £22 of OPEX (being kind and ignoring the suggestions in comments above that this is an underestimate) and £25 of CAPEX (assuming it's paid off over 20 years and I can't be bothered to calculate the NPV) per *person*.

That's an increase in water bills of over £100 per household per year which represents an increase of nearly 30% in the average water and sewage bill (£350). But that's the cost of water AND sewage so the cost of the water component of your bill would likely increase by well over 50%.

What a great suggestion this is!

Medieval warming was global – new science contradicts IPCC


Re: Spot the difference:

Indeed the researchers have released the following statement

<<"It is unfortunate that my research, "An ikaite record of late Holocene climate at the Antarctic Peninsula," recently published in Earth and Planetary Science Letters, has been misrepresented by a number of media outlets.

Several of these media articles assert that our study claims the entire Earth heated up during medieval times without human CO2 emissions. We clearly state in our paper that we studied one site at the Antarctic Peninsula. The results should not be extrapolated to make assumptions about climate conditions across the entire globe. Other statements, such as the study "throws doubt on orthodoxies around global warming," completely misrepresent our conclusions. Our study does not question the well-established anthropogenic warming trend.">>



Spot the difference:

Scientist says: “We showed that the Northern European climate events influenced climate conditions in Antarctica,”

Lewis says: "Medieval warming WAS global – new science contradicts IPCC"


RIP: Peak Oil - we won't be running out any time soon


Just to put that amazing 500% well count increase in context...

Let's take a look at US oil production trends since 1860:



Stand by for more big, windfarm-driven 'leccy price rises


Can you

link to the analysis?


Big numbers. What does it work out as per kWh?

Taking the worst case additional costs as £286m + £945m gives you £1.231bn

(and I imagine that operating reserve requirement isn't the marginal cost so it's probably going to be less than this).

According to DUKES, in 2009 we consumed 322,417GWh in the UK.

I make that 0.38p/kWh or about 3% of current retail prices.

I hope you'll understand if I don't worry too much about this.

IPCC report: Renewables can never meet energy demand


Can't spot it in the report

In fact I can't reconstruct his calculations at all. The 'will need' link to wolfram alpha suggests that average European consumption is 46MWh per capita. IEA puts total primary energy supply at 1,816,247ktoe


which is 21,123TWh. There are about 850m people in Europe so I make that 25MWh per capita.

Something's awry...


Ah I see...

the population figure I was using was for continental Europe rather than EU-27. 46MWh per capita does make sense. But that's including all the thermal plant that throws away half the primary energy as heat. Would be interesting to see how the numbers come out in the main report when electricity is produced with non-thermal sources.


2/3 of European Energy Consumption?

"All in all, it seems fair to say that human beings deserve to use, say, two-thirds as much energy as an average European of today does."

What's this based on? Is this number, say, plucked out of thin air?


This post has been deleted by a moderator


Excuse me?

"Targeting the pot industry appeals to environmentalists in a number of ways. It allows several new bureaucracies to sprout forth, and more importantly, it also plays to "the haunting fear" (in Mencken's description of Puritanism) that "someone, somewhere, may be happy"."

Excuse me? I think you're confusing environmentalists with the Christian right or something.

Looking at the FAQs on his website and scanning the report, I would also suggest that calling the author a "policy analyst with a Puritanical streak" is quite wide of the mark (but par for the course).

This research is just one more reason why the criminalisation of marijuana is utterly wrong. The fact that in 2006 a third of the US's *total* weed crop was grown indoors in California (you really should pay more attention to your source material), a climate so perfectly suited for outdoor growing, is staggering and predominantly down to criminalisation.

Therefore I would expect the vast majority of environmentalists to lean towards decriminilsation rather than increased control.

Fukushima is a triumph for nuke power: Build more reactors now!


The nuclear spin machine cranks into action...

But no one, even people living in an area that's tectonically inactive, is going to want one in their neighbourhood now.

Sixth Japanese nuclear reactor loses cooling


What an absurd comment

Highly amusing that drivel like that is being uprated. Truly lame.

NASA's Glory climate-data sat crashes into Pacific on launch


If we continue on this trajectory...

of inexorable increases in greenhouse gas emissions, we know that the future is going to be a very dark world indeed. If we do nothing to change direction, that future is guaranteed. if we do something about it now we have a small chance of avoiding it.

California's green-leccy price system will stifle plug-in cars


Time of use best for plug ins

Plug in owners should be on time of use tariffs to push them towards off-peak. I wonder if California will introduce these if plug ins take off? Would make sense given their aims for high penetration renewables over the coming decade.

'London black cabs to go electric in 2 weeks' – Boris Guardian


Cabs are ideally suited to being pure EVs

Daily mileage of a central London cab is unlikely to exceed 150 miles (9 hours is the maximum you can drive for in a day and average traffic speed in London is about 15mph if I remember right) which is an eminently achievable range. And it's a very stop start drive cycle - perfect for EVs.

New NASA model: Doubled CO2 means just 1.64°C warming


Good news

Steady though Lewis! Bit early to call the current state of climate science wrong, but this is encouraging.

Gov pays Greens to lobby it, says report


Lame Lame Lame

What a non-story and what a non-report (not surprising given where it comes from).

For example, it takes Global Action Plan to task for errr... having a view on climate change and taking money from Hackney Council to errr...hit the streets of one of the poorest wards in one of the poorest of London's boroughs, delivering advice and support for households living in fuel poverty during the coldest November in decades. Nice to see that the TPA view that as a waste of public money, what a delightful bunch they are..

I can't wait for the outcome of the charity commission investigation.

How I used Space Shuttle tech to insulate the living room


They have windows!

And you can open them! It's not that they're sealed boxes, instead the ventilation is precisely controlled so as to minimise heat loss. Ventilation is very important but is largely ignored, in the UK at least.

Two-faced world spends billions on climate help, fossil fuel


Waiting for solar PV costs to come down?

I don't get this bit. If the world were to suddenly stop investing in PV overnight and wait five or ten years, how would costs come down? These things don't just magically happen.

We needed to buy crystalline PV at dollars per watt in the early years so that companies could safely invest in the R&D to be churning out thin film at pennies per watt in later years. We're already below $1 per watt so I would say we're getting there.

Hefty physicist: Global warming is 'pseudoscientific fraud'


"(literally) trillions" eh?

What a scientific statement!

Global GDP in 2008 was $60 trillion and it's going to be a very long time before a trillion is spent on climate action. Meanwhile, the world spends literally literally trillions (more than 2 of them) each year on oil.

I'd love to know what (if any) of the literature this guy has actually bothered to read. Judging by the language he uses I'd say he's mostly informed by blogs.

Danube sludge peril: Brown trouser time or not?


An article that oozes sneer

Yet another toweringly insightful environment piece on the register.

All CO2-spewing kit now in existence is OK for the planet


Sorry but that's simply not true...at the moment.

"So.... it's not rocket science that running exisiting stuff till it dies produces less carbon than building a new one... but the message will never pass go.."

Embodied energy and embodied carbon of virtually every energy using product comprises a relatively small chunk of life cycle emissions. In use emissions are far greater. I say virtually every product because there are a few outliers that are used so infrequently that this is not the case (power drills for example).

Replacing current, inefficient energy using products with substantially more efficient ones does lead to big life cycle benefits. Once we've driven in use energy down to a minimum then longevity of the product becomes essential.

Diesels greener than electric cars, says Swiss gov report


The Register's environment & energy coverage...

is absurdly biased and negative.

It essentially consists of two writers with very limited knowledge about the subjects they're covering. One disses any clean tech solution that he doesn't like, the other disses the IPCC and climate science and attempts to force his personal agenda on the reader, often without the option of a public response.

Not one story is in any way positive or contains anything approaching actual journalism.

It would be amusing if it wasn't so pathetic.


Yeah I know but it's the closest thing out there...

I mentioned range extenders but they're mostly (all?) petrol and I suspect are likely to remain that way for a while yet. I believe that petrol engines operate better at constant speeds than diesels - can't remember why though.

I seem to remember people looking at turbine extenders which would burn diesel and the guy who developed the segway was looking at stirling engine extenders which would run on just about anything. HCCI is also an option.


Diesel-electric cars

Mostly it hasn't been done because it's expensive - both electric and diesel drivetrains cost a fair bit. Peugeot have announced a new through the road diesel hybrid:


I believe range extender development is mostly focusing on petrol units, at a guess because they'll be lighter?


Good to see this

The 'battery as environmental baddy' meme is already quite entrenched so it's good to see this work corroborating existing life cycle assessments.

But as ever Lewis is spinning like crazy in order to push his belief that EVs aren't a good solution to decarbonising personal transport and reducing oil dependency.

A significant weakness in the study, as far as I can make out, is that they've assumed constant carbon emissions from grid electricity (they've gone with the European average which is a bit lower than the UK's grid factor).

But in reality, our electricity supplies are going to steadily decarbonise over the coming decades so while the diesel ICEV has the same emissions for its entire 14 year lifetime, the BEV emissions will steadily decrease so overall BEV lifecycle emissions will be lower even than the best diesels on the market.

'Poo-powered' Volkswagen astounds world+dog


Standard recharging will be plenty...

...for the vast majority of EV use. Using a full recharge of the Tesla Roadster battery (56kWh) as your example was a little disingenous (no surprise there though).

A 13A socket will deliver 3kW. Let's say charging efficeincy is 90% and you recharge for 6 hours from midnight until 6am in order to reduce the impact on the grid. That gives you 16kWh, enough to take you 100km @ 150Wh/km.

That'll easily cover most commuting needs in both directins but you could always top up at work, again with a standard socket (although paying much more for peak rate electricity). If you drive much more than that you can get a plug in hybrid or a high efficiency diesel.

As for biomethane, we're only going to see it in captive fleets. But there's no harm in demonstrating the technology in a context that everyone understands, i.e. a car. Much better to use the biogas in heat applicatins though as they have much hgher efficiencies than vehicle applications.

It's non-stop fun in Zero Carbon Britain, 2030



Might just get in the way of your grand energy plans.

Giddens, Lawson argue quite sensibly on climate change


Unfounded speculation?

How on earth can you in all seriousness call it unfounded speculation? By all means disagree with me but you are now calling the whole of climate science (on which I base my viewpoint) unfounded speculation? Truly extraordinary.

You and Lawson are the ones speculating rampantly, indeed betting the house on adaptation being cheaper in the future than a combination of mitigation now coupled with a lower requirement for adaptation in the future (becuase we're already committed to a substantial amount of disruption).

It's also worth pointing out that virtually every serious economist working in this field views mitigation and adaptation as much, much cheaper than your solution of BAU plus adaptation.

And no Andrew, I'm not aiming to create as many obstacles to the developing world's economic development as I can. I get very tired of you and other commentators of a certain ilk spouting the tired, bullshit line that environmentalists want to keep the developing world in poverty.

It's the developed world that should be making quick cuts in carbon emissions in the first instance and then sharing the technology to enable low carbon development with the rest of the world. But then on the subject of developed world carbon mitigation you come up with chestnuts like "mitigation entails a world of pain - with jobs lost, higher energy costs and a lower standard of living".

The key mitigation solution is energy efficiency and, while a switch to low carbon energy might mean higher unit costs, if you're consuming half the quantity of energy then it means *lower* overall energy costs.

A transition to low carbon energy also entails massive job growth due to the total overhaul of our energy infrastructure that will be required and I have no idea how you can equate energy efficiency and low carbon energy with a lower standard of living because it makes no sense whatsoever.

Do you really think that reliance on fossil fuels is good for the developed world economy? Each year UK homes spend about £35 billion on heat and power and a further £35 billion is spent fueling our cars. That's really good for the balance of payments!


No proof, ample evidence

I was merely pointing out that the rhetoric employed by 'sceptics' has evolved over time as each argument has conclusively been demonstrated to be false. It's really quite sad and this latest tactic is particularly insidious.

I'm sorry to say that it's very unlikely that we will ever have proof, but there is ample evidence to support the notion that man's activity is the primary driver of observed warming and there is ample evidence to support the notion that a policy of deep cuts in carbon emissions will give us a chance of avoiding dangerous climate change. At the very least it will give us a bit of breathing space to adapt. And there is ample evidence to support the notion that the trajectory that the likes of Lawson and Orlowski would have us tread will make life very very difficult for a large swathe of humanity in the future.

I'm unsure what you mean by your last paragraph though - there'll still be plenty of carbon around for plants to photosynthesise if that's what you're worried about


And so it happens...

The 'sceptic' arguments morph into the next phase.

First it was "it's not warming", then "ok it is warming but it's not man", now it's moved on to "ok it is warming and it is man but let's not bother trying to do anything about it".

Pacific islands growing not shrinking, says old study


Not half as fishy as...

...the other graph in Morner's testimony linked to in the article:



Keep clutching at those straws Andrew!

Prince Charles, Stephen Fry and IBM to save the planet


I will from now on

Thanks! :-)


Wow! What a bitter and very personal post

"You sound like a closet fascist case who has jumped on the "sustainability" bandwaggon because your arguments aren't very good"

I hope that the mods will forgive me if I call you a fucking twat (if not I'll happily repost in a bit without this sentance).

Anyway. You'll note that I was quoting Tim Jackson but I agree with his sentiments.

I love it how you characterise economic stability as a "red herrng"! Look at where debt-fuelled growth has got us.

The point of the work behind proserity without growth is that we move away from using GDP as a measure of success and move towards metrics such as health, well being, leisure time, non-tediousness of life etc, which you are intested in and put a value on those - they define the success.

The main point is that GDP growth <> increased wellbeing. More plasma TVs, yes but not increased wellbeing. Most studies find no correlation between happiness and GDP after GDP has reached a certain point.


Prospeity without growth

Iglethal, posperity without growth is not about keeping "3/4 of the worlds population continue to live in relative (and often real) poverty", although it's frequently and wrongly characterised as such.

Here's what Tim Jackson, one of the leading proponents of the concept has to say about it:

"For millions in developing countries, growth is clearly still vital to deliver basic standards of living and well-being. But, in developed countries including the UK, far from increasing prosperity, our debt-driven consumption has created an unstable system which has put jobs and livelihoods at risk, as well as damaging us psychologically and socially."

Check out the graphs from p41 of this publication:


After a certain point, increased GDP does next to nothing to improve life.

Alternatively, read Jackson's book of the same title (minus the '?')

Soot, hydrofluorocarbs 'low-hanging fruit' to fight warming


I just ask because…

...a cursory search brings up:

“A broad coalition of more than 300 faith, human rights, social justice, and environmental groups, including Friends of the Earth, has composed and sent a letter to U.S. senators calling for energy and climate legislation…[which] must include immediate action on short-lived global warming pollutants, including black carbon and methane, to slow warming in the near term.”


“Countries must actively look for additional policies and measures where international cooperation could bring added value and deliver additional emission reductions. One of the obvious candidates for coordinated action is black carbon... Its full climate impacts are still poorly known…The good news is that addressing black carbon would be relatively easy and cheap and it would have quick impacts.


Just two examples I know but…


Care to provide a reference?

"Many greens don't want it discussed" ..."This usually angers the harder-green lobby, who tend to see such a plan as merely postponing the problem."

Boffins turn Bunsen burners on Frank Skinner


Errr no

Climate science has not been hijacked by activists. Climate science is still being done by climate scientists who you are quite happy to slander. Just listen to yourself.


Cover up?

What's this cover up that's so dismaying the public then?

I think what's closer to the truth is that they're fed up with the transparent smear campaign that is being waged against science.

California's 'Zero Energy House' is actually massive fossil hog


"This sort of thing has always been possible...

...of course, but it generally means a dwelling without heating, hot water, cooking or air conditioning (the latter often seen as essential to life in much of California) and not a lot in the way of electrical appliances either."

Now that's not quite true.

The Passivhaus design standard ( http://www.passivhaus.org.uk/index.jsp?id=668 ) allows for a building with no traditional heating system - solar water heating and perhaps a small wood burning stove would be more than enough.

And a decent sized (2-3kW) PV array could easily generate sufficient net electricity for an efficiently lit and equipped house over the course of a year.

It's definitely possible (although not cheap) to have the trappings of modern life with zero net energy. Indeed a Passivhaus designed dwelling would be a lot more comfortable to live in than anything else.

Global warming dirt-carbon peril models are wrong, say boffins


So if the earth warms by 5 degrees...

...we'll be just fine and dandy because these microbes won't cause the release of as much carbon as was originally thought??

'Go veggie to save the planet' UN, EU plans debunked


We can believe people who's jobs it is...

... to get the numbers right.

What a load of conspiratorial bollocks.

CO2 inventories are quite easy to calculate. It's very well known how energy flows through the economy because government is fond of taxing it and it's very easy to calculate CO2 emissions from that so no, it's not some massive conspiracy and cars don't generate 0.5% of UK CO2. They actually generate about 16% (all road transport generates 25%).

You can see the energy flow chart here:


And emissions inventory here:


"volcanos..." Again, no: http://www.esrl.noaa.gov/gmd/ccgg/trends/#global_data

"Oh and has anyone noticed that the latest report on atmospheric Co2 shows that it stays in the atmosphere weeks and months, not lots of years as claimed."

No I haven't. Please provide a link.



Thanks to 007 up there ^ for this gem:

"Writing the synthesis was supported by a $26,000 research grant from the Beef Checkoff Program, which funds research and other activities, including promotion and consumer education, through fees on beef producers in the U.S."


"The Beef Checkoff Program increases profit opportunities for producers by keeping beef top-of-mind with consumers and purveyors, and by working to ensure a wholesome, quality beef-eating experience every time. Efforts include:

• Promoting high-quality U.S. beef in foreign countries.

• Working to continue growth in beef demand.

• Funding product-enhancement and beef-safety research programs to address safety and quality issues.

• Investing an average of $4 million annually on beef-safety and product-technology research.

• Delivering beef-enjoyment messages to consumers through a checkoff-funded national radio and print advertising campaign.

• Identifying management practices through Beef Quality Assurance (BQA) to strengthen consumer confidence in beef as a wholesome, safe quality product.

• Introducing new products into the marketplace. From 1996 to 2008, more than 2,500 new beef

products addressing consumer preferences reached the market."


Beef-enjoyment messages! Mmmm beefy goodness.

Yeah that UN report has been thoroughly debunked.

The Register sinks to a new low.


Something's not right

He has a point that the UN report should have included transport infrastructure development, but that is small in comparison to direct transport emissions - sure it generates a lot of carbon to build a motorway but that pales into insignificance when you consider the amount of fuel burnt to propel vehicles down that motorway.

But here's the kicker that suggests something's awry in this new analysis:

"The prof says that in the United States, the true picture is that transportation accounts for 26 per cent of greenhouse emissions and cattle and pig farming just three per cent."

Apparently (I can't find the actual paper), it only looks at the US. Well the US isn't tearing down primary jungle to create new farmland for animals. Land use change is the cause of the bulk of livestock production GHG emissions.

This study stinks to high heaven though. Would *love* to know what the background to it is. The bit about spreading western farming technology might give a hint.

Drought effect on rainforests is negligible


The Register's environment coverage 2010:

In reverse order...

Climate bashing

Met Office bashing

Snowball earth

Climate bashing


Climate bashing

Climate bashing

Climate bashing


Climate bashing


Climate bashing

Botnet bugging

Climate bashing


Climate bashing

Climate bashing

Climate bashing

Climate bashing

Climate bashing

Wow a sort of vaguely reasonable climate story (i.e not from LP or AO)

Climate bashing

Wow a sort of vaguely reasonable climate story (i.e not from LP or AO)

Climate bashing

Climate bashing




Climate bashing

There's balance for you!

'We must all stop washing to save the planet'


Since when has the ASA decided...

...what our power stations emit?!

The carbon factor for grid electricity in the UK in 2007, the most recent year for which there is data, was a little over 0.54kgCO2/kWh:

http://www.defra.gov.uk/environment/business/reporting/pdf/20090928-guidelines-ghg-conversion-factors.pdf (Table 3c)

So in fact the carbon savings quoted are a slight underestimate. And I wouldn't be surprised if in 2008 the carbon factor crept up slightly given that supposedly reliable nuclear capacity was out of commission for so long.


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