Several folks around here cite Evans Pritchard from time to time, noting that some of his stuff is excellent and some is bonkers. His latest on the wonders of (offshore) windfarms is firmly in the latter character, being in the nature of an outpouring of religious fervour. How else can we explain this?
Barry Norris from Argonaut Capital disagrees [with AEP's uncritical enthusiasm], calling wind “an unsustainable economic rent seeking parasitical industry”. Rent seeking, certainly. But unsustainable? The cost of running a gas power plant this autumn (around £84 MWh) is still almost double the average tariff paid to wind companies under recent CfD contracts (£46 MWh). It was nine times more during the gas panic last year. The Treasury pockets the difference. It is a reverse subsidy. Home-harvested wind also slows the leakage of our national wealth through the current account deficit. Mr Norris doubts that wind companies will be able to meet commitments agreed in their CfD contracts, and will require a renegotiation. I agree. The strike price will have to rise in the new unforeseen circumstances. He expects a ”shabby bail-out”: I call it a reduction in the wind tax paid to the Treasury.
Oh dear. Aside from the entirely dishonest use of the "9 times" statistic (as coined by Ed Miliband, oft-parroted by greens, and true for just a couple of days last autumn): why will higher-than-expected gas prices require renegotiation of windpower contracts? Answer: because that's not the unforeseen circumstance. The problem is not high gas prices - which ought to assist other forms of energy - but shortage of raw materials and skilled labour (see diagram below) as every developer on the planet is seeking to pile (literally) into the same things at the same time, on a truly gigantic scale. A bit, errr, inflationary, wouldn't we say? And
(a) Those CfDs, far from the being hedge they were offered as (via auctions), were in fact used as speculative punts by the developers, hoping that they'd be able to source their raw materials at prices which the CfD would reward with an acceptable rate of return. But that's what they were - naked speculative punts. And pretty stupid ones too, because ...
(b) ... this wasn't remotely unforeseen. Trust me: the banks knew this all along: both the speculative aspect, and the inflationary outcome.AEP puts up a couple of diagrams. One neatly proves that windpower is horribly variable, which doesn't really assist his cause. The other is this (right). Does he feel it demonstrates the feasibility of what he's so stricken with? I'd say a resource-heavy surge that the "Development" projection represents should trigger a reality-check for the most optimistic forecaster. Even the "Consented" tranche is f**ked. What does he imagine the impact of actually materialising demand on the scale of this graph would be on the price of raw materials?
As with so many aspects of the Net Zero thing, there's a very strong odour of incense here: it's basically a religion.