Thursday, January 19, 2012

British plans for green energy drive 'will cost families £400 a year by 2020'

Plans for a massive expansion of renewable energy will cost families an average of £400 a year each, a report warned last night.

It accuses Energy Secretary Chris Huhne of ‘misleading’ the public by suggesting energy costs could be lower as a result of the Government’s drive for green power.

It said official estimates had grossly underestimated the impact on families by leaving out much of the huge taxpayer subsidy for wind farms and other costly forms of renewable energy.

Mr Huhne told MPs in November that the Government’s green energy policies would reduce average household bills by 7 per cent – equal to about £94 a year.

Businesses will see average bills rise by 19 per cent. Government officials last night said ministers stood by the estimate.

But the study by the respected think-tank Policy Exchange says the Government’s figures are based on huge assumptions that households will cut their energy use. It suggests the overall impact of subsidies for green energy will cost the average family £400 a year by 2020 – the equivalent of adding 2.5p to the VAT rate.

The huge cost will raise fresh questions about the Government’s strategy of focusing resources on an expensive network of offshore wind farms in an effort to meet tough EU carbon emission targets.

Simon Less, of Policy Exchange, called on ministers to be ‘more transparent’.

The think-tank, which has close links to the Conservative Party, believes the Government’s green targets should be ‘renegotiated’ with Brussels, and that the private sector should be given incentives to come up with cheaper ways of cutting carbon emissions.

A spokesman for the Department of Energy and Climate Change said £400 was ‘not a credible figure, and appears to be based on flawed analysis’.


Dangerous religious fanatic masquerading as a scientist

Islamic fundamentalism is not the only religion threatening the wellbeing of the West
The Alberta Tar Sands are believed to contain the planet’s second-largest deposit of oil, after Saudi Arabia, and extracting it takes a lot more energy than traditional drilling. If we start down that path, warns James Hansen, a climate activist and scientist with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, it will be “game over for the planet.”

For most of the last 600 million years, atmospheric CO2 was much higher than at present. The planet survived just fine. The planet flourished. Live evolved on land and in the sea. Corals evolved with CO2 more than 10X current levels. Shellfish evolved. Mammals evolved. Reptiles evolved.

Our country needs the energy – he should be fired immediately. This country was not founded by idiots, and will not survive them for long.


Another junk science scare

The Greens want to stop Brazil from developing its jungle — oh, excuse us — “rainforest.” In a new study in Nature, Woods Hole researchers continue laying the junk science foundation for keeping Brazil poor. The Woods Hole release is below.

North America was also once largely tree covered until European settlers came along and converted much of it for agriculture and pasturage. No disaster ensued. Why should it be different in South America? They do not say. They prefer their crystal ball to the historical facts
New study evaluates impact of land use activity in the Amazon basin. Highlights signs of transition to a disturbance-dominated regime

A new paper published today in Nature reveals that human land use activity has begun to change the regional water and energy cycles – the interplay of air coming in from the Atlantic Ocean, water transpiration by the forest, and solar radiation – of parts of the Amazon basin. In addition, it shows that ongoing interactions between deforestation, fire, and climate change have the potential to alter carbon storage, rainfall patterns and river discharge on an even larger basin-wide scale.

The research was led by the Woods Hole Research Center (WHRC). Lead scientist Eric Davidson (WHRC) and 13 Brazilian and US colleagues from universities, government and the NGOs, all of whom participated in the Large-Scale Biosphere-Atmosphere Experiment in the Amazon (LBA), produced a framework by which the connections among climate change, agricultural expansion, logging, and fire risk can be evaluated. The framework considers changes in greenhouse-gas emissions, and energy and water cycles. Using it they found signs of transition to a disturbance-dominated regime in the southern and eastern portions of the Amazon basin. Co-author Jennifer K. Balch adds: “One strong sign of a new disturbance regime is the high number of recent large-scale wildfires, which are a by-product of intentional fires in Brazil’s ‘arc of deforestation.’” She emphasizes that these fires “are extremely frequent, occurring every few years, compared with every couple centuries in the past.”

Why is this important? Humans have been part of the Amazon basin forest-river system for thousands of years, but the expansion and intensification of agriculture, logging and urban development, and their synergistic impacts are beginning to stress the natural integrity of the ecosystem. Since the Amazon River produces about 20% of the world’s fresh water discharge and the Amazon forest holds about 100 billion tones of carbon (10 years’ worth of global fossil fuel emissions), it is important that economic development in the region proceed along sustainable paths that do not degrade the ecosystem services provided to local, regional and global communities by the forests and rivers of the region. “The studies in this review, document changes in river flow, sedimentation in rivers, and lengthening of the dry season in the southern and eastern flanks of the Amazon Basin,” notes Dr. Davidson. “Whether similar changes are likely to occur in other parts of the basin will depend on the interplay of management decisions and the impacts of climate change during the next few years and decades.”

The project showed that the Amazon forest is resilient to considerable climatic variation from year to year, but that this resilience can be exceeded by severe or prolonged drought. The evidence points to a system in biophysical transition, highlighting the need for improved understanding of the trade-offs among land cover, carbon stocks, water resources, habitat conservation, human health, and economic development in future scenarios of climate change and land-use change.

Efforts in Brazil to curb deforestation have led to a significant decline in the clearing of forests in the Amazon basin, from nearly 28,000 km2 per year in 2004 to less than 7,000 km2 in 2010, but at the same time, the incidence of fire has not decreased, indicating continued risks for forest degradation through climate-fire interactions.

With Brazil poised to become a major economic power, the study emphasizes that improvements in scientific and technological capacity, and human resources will be required to guide and manage future sustainable development in the region.


Climate Skepticism is not the new Creationism. Warmism is

Those who thought that the war was won and the forces of junk science—who prop up the climate change alarmists—were sent packing need to think again. With the new year, a new assault on climate skepticism is being waged on multiple fronts. Editorials in Nature and Science herald the resurgence of the climate catastrophists and their attempt to bamboozle the public, mislead government officials and brainwash our children. Wake up and smell the steer manure, the battle against the bogus boffins of climate hysteria is far from over.

With the the Arab Spring, recession and national default looming in Europe, and America being distracted by its quadrennial presidential circus there has been precious little mention of that old bugaboo, global warming, in recent days. So little news that the casual observer might think that the mater is settled and rationality has put paid to the alarmist rabble. Not so! To start off 2012, the editorial section of the British journal Nature has sounded a clarion call for a climate change resurgence.

In an editorial titled “Reach out about climate,” scientists of the world are urged to put 2011 behind them and rejoin the fight in 2012:
With US politics in gridlock, Europe in financial turmoil and minimal progress at the climate conference in South Africa in December, 2011 was a bad year for political progress in tackling climate change. In addition, surveys of public opinion show a declining belief that climate change is an urgent problem. Clearly, the need to make the public aware of the threat has never been greater. In the face of climate-change contrarians and denialists, some of them with political clout and voices amplified by the media, climate scientists must be even more energetic in taking their message to citizens.

By their own admission, 2011 was a very bad year for the purveyors of alarmist tripe. On most fronts they have been stymied, governments have turned a deaf ear to their ever shriller protestations. Worst of all, the public has grown tired of the climate Cassandras and their constant droning on about doom and destruction. But the true believers are using the distractions of the current news cycle as cover while they lick their wounds, marshal their forces and plan a new offensive. Again quoting from the Nature editorial:
Two challenges face those who communicate the science of climate change to the public. The first is to make the messages from models and observations as vivid as possible while maintaining scientific probity — avoiding the blurring of dispassionate discussions of the science and the equally important individual right of advocacy. The second is to find the right ways of conveying uncertainties without losing grip on the central, generally agreed, conclusions.

Bemoaning government difficulties in achieving “clarity of national action on climate change,” they nonetheless urge the climate faithful forward. “[S]cientists and their organizations need to do more to help citizens engage with the issues and not be misled by travesties of the evidence.” Travesties of evidence? As in there is no convincing evidence backing the climate cabal's claims? This ongoing guerrilla war on rationality is the only travesty here.

The view from Europe is echoed by the even shriller climate activists at American journal Science. In a January 17th online article, under the title “Education Advocates Enter the Climate Tempest,” the question is posed: “Is climate change education the new evolution, threatened in U.S. school districts and state education standards by well-organized interest groups?”

This is not the first attempt to place climate skeptics on the same disreputable level as creationist. The inference is that doubting climate change dogma is the same as denying Evolution—the province of religious fanatics and fringe science loonies. Sorry, science doesn't work that way. Disbelief in a poorly formed theory supported by scanty evidence in no way implies belief or disbelief in any other unconnected theory. Real scientists would know better.

Yet the National Center for Science Education (NCSE) in Oakland, California, which fights the teaching of creationism, announced that it's going to take on climate change denial as well. In the article from Science, NCSE environmental education expert Mark McCaffrey states “There's a climate of confusion in this country around climate science.” Amazing! Wasn't this supposed to be settled science? How can something so supposedly well accepted by science meet with such resistance? Surely the climate change alarmists have incontrovertible proof of their assertions. Oops.

NCSE expects opposing climate skepticism to be much harder than fighting creationism. “The forces arrayed against climate science are more numerous and much better funded,” says NCSE Director Eugenie Scott. Armed with contradicting facts and rational arguments those cheeky skeptics are better able to get their message across in the mainstream media. I've got news for you, Eugenie, it's not the funding. The fight against climate skepticism is so hard because the warmists' evidence is so unconvincing.

This is supposed to be a scientific debate, yet the warmists are putting their efforts into propaganda, particularly propaganda aimed at the young. Better to teach our children the scientific method, at the heart of which is the principle of hypothesis rejection by contrary empirical evidence. As one poster on Slashdot recently said, “neither the IPCC, nor NOAA, nor the Royal Meteorological society have made any clearly falsifiable hypothesis statement about Catastrophic Anthropogenic Global Warming.” In short, global warming doesn't even qualify as a scientific theory.

So gird your intellectual loins and man the ramparts, the forces of crap science are mounting a counter attack. Their evidence has not improved, their models have not miraculously become a stand-in for the real world, the validity of their weak, ad hoc theory has, if anything, diminished. But yet they yammer on, after all there are buckets of grant money at stake. We skeptics must remain strong and objective, for the cost of freedom from crackpot science is eternal vigilance.


Re-Evaluating Germany's Blind Faith in the Sun

The costs of subsidizing solar electricity have exceeded the 100-billion-euro mark in Germany, but poor results are jeopardizing the country's transition to renewable energy. The government is struggling to come up with a new concept to promote the inefficient technology in the future.

The Baedeker travel guide is now available in an environmentally-friendly version. The 200-page book, entitled "Germany - Discover Renewable Energy," lists the sights of the solar age: the solar café in Kirchzarten, the solar golf course in Bad Saulgau, the light tower in Solingen and the "Alster Sun" in Hamburg, possibly the largest solar boat in the world.

The only thing that's missing at the moment is sunshine. For weeks now, the 1.1 million solar power systems in Germany have generated almost no electricity. The days are short, the weather is bad and the sky is overcast.

As is so often the case in winter, all solar panels more or less stopped generating electricity at the same time. To avert power shortages, Germany currently has to import large amounts of electricity generated at nuclear power plants in France and the Czech Republic. To offset the temporary loss of solar power, grid operator Tennet resorted to an emergency backup plan, powering up an old oil-fired plant in the Austrian city of Graz.

Solar energy has gone from being the great white hope, to an impediment, to a reliable energy supply. Solar farm operators and homeowners with solar panels on their roofs collected more than €8 billion ($10.2 billion) in subsidies in 2011, but the electricity they generated made up only about 3 percent of the total power supply, and that at unpredictable times.

The distribution networks are not designed to allow tens of thousands of solar panel owners to switch at will between drawing electricity from the grid and feeding power into it. Because there are almost no storage options, the excess energy has to be destroyed at substantial cost. German consumers already complain about having to pay the second-highest electricity prices in Europe.

Solar Industry Facing Tough Economic Times

In the coming weeks, the German government intends to decide how it will treat solar energy in the future. The parliamentary leaders of the ruling center-right Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and the business-friendly Free Democratic Party (FDP) have written Environment Minister Norbert Röttgen a letter asking him to present a new subsidy concept by Jan. 25. Economy Minister Philipp Rösler (FDP) would prefer to abandon the current subsidization system altogether, as would the business wing of the CDU.

The FDP leader, who long ignored the subject of the energy transition, hopes to boost his profile by opposing solar subsidies. Rösler sees an opportunity to demonstrate that he, unlike his fellow cabinet minister Röttgen, has an understanding of economics, especially as he knows that many in the CDU, and its Bavarian sister party, the Christian Social Union (CSU), agree with him.

Until now, Merkel had consistently touted the environmental sector's "opportunities for exports, development, technology and jobs." But now even members of her own staff are calling it a massive money pit.

New numbers issued by the pro-industry Rhine-Westphalia Institute for Economic Research (RWI) will only add fuel to the fire. The experts calculated the additional costs to consumers after more solar systems were connected to the grid than in any other previous month in December. Under Germany's Renewable Energy Law, each new system qualifies for 20 years of subsidies. A mountain of future payment obligations is beginning to take shape in front of consumers' eyes.

According to the RWI, the solar energy systems connected to the grid in 2011 alone will cost electricity customers about €18 billion in subsidy costs over the next 20 years. "The demand for subsidies is growing and growing," says RWI expert Manuel Frondel. If all commitments to pay subsidies so far are added together, Frondel adds, "we have already exceeded the €100 billion level."

The RWI also expects the green energy surcharge on electricity bills to go up again soon. It is currently 3.59 cents per kilowatt hour of electricity, a number the German government had actually pledged to cap at 3.5 cents. But because of the most recent developments, RWI expert Frondel predicts that the surcharge will soon increase to 4.7 cents per kilowatt hour. For the average family, this would amount to an additional charge of about €200 a year, in addition to the actual cost of electricity. Solar energy has the potential to become the most expensive mistake in German environmental policy.


Collapse in European carbon price leaves Australia's Leftist government out on a limb

Australian carbon price to be much higher than in Europe

THE gulf between Australia's incoming fixed carbon price and the floating international price is set to widen as Europe's economic troubles and regulatory uncertainty undermine carbon markets.

The value of European Union Emission Allowances (EUAs) has halved since June and touched a record low of €6.38 ($7.85) a tonne of carbon dioxide on January 4.

The value of Certified Emission Reductions units, mandated under the United Nation's Clean Development Mechanism - tradeable internationally but mostly sold as offsets to liable parties in Europe - fell to a record €3.28 a tonne on Monday.

On Tuesday, French bank Societe Generale cut its forecast for European Union permit prices in 2012 by 28 per cent to €8.90 a tonne, on lower emissions because of worsening economic conditions and faster than expected deployment of renewable energy.

SocGen's Paris analyst, Emmanuel Fages, said if European regulators failed to set tight limits in the carbon market after 2020, when the continent's emissions trading scheme enters its fourth phase, "prices in an oversupplied market could rapidly fall further from present levels to values close to zero".

From July 1, Australia's biggest emitters will be liable to pay a carbon price of $23 a tonne, rising by 2.5 per cent a year until 2015, when it will float subject to a floor price of $15 a tonne, itself rising for another three years until it is reviewed.

Deutsche Bank analyst Tim Jordan said "clearly there's parts of business that would like access to a carbon price of €6 a tonne, but that would defer the decarbonisation of the Australian economy".

"There'll be pressure on the government to consider a lower price but I think the Parliament has passed the legislation and parties would be unlikely to reopen debate by 1 July," he said.

In November, Deutsche downgraded its forecasts for the price of European permits in 2012 to between €5 and €7 a tonne and predicted "if there is a repeat of the distress in interbank lending markets that we saw in 2009 … we think prices could break below €5 a tonne for a time".

Bloomberg New Energy Finance analyst Seb Henbest said there was "not a lot of price support on the horizon" for international carbon prices. A mooted increase to Europe's 2020 emissions reduction target from 20 to 30 per cent was the only thing that could boost the price.

But Mr Henbest said Europe would not be the main driver of international carbon prices indefinitely. At some point, Europe would exceed its so-called "supplementarity" limits, which allow it to buy permits from overseas, mainly via CERs.



For more postings from me, see DISSECTING LEFTISM, TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here


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