WWF renewable power estimates require scientific evidence

Letters to EditorThe Editor

The Scottish Energy News

8 July 2015

Sir,

Energy policy needs to be based on facts.  A scientific approach to evidence requires that facts be verifiable.  It is entirely legitimate to use modelled estimates when hard data are incomplete.

However, a scientific approach to modelling requires transparency about the model and its embedded assumptions. Last year WWF started issuing press releases lauding levels of wind generation in Scotland.  These were model-based estimates, though the press coverage seldom explained that. 

There were flaws in some of the assumptions underlying the model, meaning its estimates were too high.  After several months some of these flaws were corrected, but not all.  In particular, total electricity consumption for Scotland was substantially understated. Do the latest claims for June stand up to examination?  I don’t know because the information is nowhere on the WWF Scotland website.  WWF appears to have “published” the figures only by sending them to media outlets. 

After the published press release for January 2015, their ‘Scottish Press Centre’ website page is silent on the monthly model outputs even though the media are reporting them. What I can say is that they appear to still understate total electricity consumption in Scotland.  Their estimate of generation for June is claimed as one third of Scottish consumption but appears nearer to one quarter.

It speaks volumes that WWF has so little confidence in its modelling that it dare not publish the results on its own website.

(Dr) Dave Gordon

Perthshire

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