London’s electrification of transport scuppered by Red Throated Divers?

Posted on Posted in Chairman’s Blog

The one and only London Wind Array supplies renewable electricity, partly meeting the needs of London. The 2nd phase of the project has been abandoned however, because endangered Red Throated Divers might be threatened by wind turbines. Meanwhile, Londoners continue to die from diseases caused by polluted air.

In my previous blog, I advocated that London adopt the new ‘London Clean Transport Charge’, a transparent carbon tax specifically to fund London’s buses and taxis to run on hydrogen or electricity made from renewables.

Now let’s look at the numbers. The full electrification of London’s transport system feels like a 3.2GW-sized challenge in its own right, based on a back-of-an-envelope calculation using London’s road transport energy consumption of 2.3 million tonnes of fuel a year. That equates to another ‘Hinkley Point C’ nuclear power station. The proposed ‘Sizewell C’ and ‘Bradwell’ nuclear power stations, once approved, could supply some of that capacity, provided they are not ear-marked for replacement of legacy power stations.

If nuclear capacity is spoken for, offshore wind arrays might seem the natural alternative. In practical terms, the 3.2GW electrification project would require over 11 existing London Wind Arrays at 630MW per array, given a capacity factor of 45.3%. However, the annual influx of Red Throated Divers, an endangered species that winters in the Thames Estuary, has already blown any further wind array development off course, as reported by The Daily Mail.

Is London’s electrification of transport to be completely scuppered by Red Throated Divers? Well, in the sense that these pretty birds are blocking the full implementation of even one London Wind Array, then it’s unimaginable that ten more will be built. That leaves the nuclear option as the ‘last man standing’.

If the electrification of London’s transport is a Hinkley-sized problem, surely we need another Hinkley. It can be part funded by the new ‘London Clean Transport Charge’. Then we can crack on with reducing London’s air pollution as well as its CO2 emissions.

The Red Throated Divers are already safe. Time to concentrate on Londoners now.


Bruce Menzies, Chairman, Predict Ability Ltd (PAL)

© Copyright Predict Ability Ltd 2017. All rights reserved.

Bruce Menzies

Author: Bruce Menzies

Bruce Menzies is Chairman and co-founder of PAL. He founded Global Digital Systems Ltd that won the Queen’s Award For Enterprise 2011. Bruce is co-author of six books on geotechnics and geology, one of which won the British Geotechnical Association Prize 2002. He holds doctorates from the Universities of London and Auckland, and is a Fellow of the Institution of Civil Engineers.

London’s electrification of transport scuppered by Red Throated Divers? was last modified: August 19th, 2018 by Bruce Menzies

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