Friday, October 12, 2012

Glaciers Cracking in the Presence of Carbon Dioxide?

Note that this is just computer modelling.  Why can't they study ice directly?  It's not exactly hard to find.  Models will usually give you what you want.  Reality is more pesky

And reality would suggest that any such effect is trivial (note that they offer no quantification of the effect).  How, for instance, do the conclusions below fit in with the geologic record, that of CO2 rising in apparent response to global warming only to be followed by an almost equally dramatic temperature fall despite all the extra CO2 around? Judging from the record, CO2’s alleged ability to reduce the earth’s albedo by breaking up ice does nothing to alter the monotonous timing of one Ice Age after another.

New research, published October 11, in IOP Publishing's Journal of Physics D: Applied Physics, has shown that CO2 molecules may be having a more direct impact on the ice that covers our planet.

Researchers from the Massachusetts Institute for Technology have shown that the material strength and fracture toughness of ice are decreased significantly under increasing concentrations of CO2 molecules, making ice caps and glaciers more vulnerable to cracking and splitting into pieces, as was seen recently when a huge crack in the Pine Island Glacier in Antarctica spawned a glacier the size of Berlin.

Ice caps and glaciers cover seven per cent of Earth -- more than Europe and North America combined -- and are responsible for reflecting 80-90 per cent of the Sun's light rays that enter our atmosphere and maintain Earth's temperature. They are also a natural carbon sink, capturing a large amount of CO2.

"If ice caps and glaciers were to continue to crack and break into pieces, their surface area that is exposed to air would be significantly increased, which could lead to accelerated melting and much reduced coverage area on the Earth. The consequences of these changes remain to be explored by the experts, but they might contribute to changes of the global climate," said lead author of the study Professor Markus Buehler.

Buehler, along with his student and co-author of the paper, Zhao Qin, used a series of atomistic-level computer simulations to analyse the dynamics of molecules to investigate the role of CO2 molecules in ice fracturing, and found that CO2 exposure causes ice to break more easily.

Notably, the decreased ice strength is not merely caused by material defects induced by CO2 bubbles, but rather by the fact that the strength of hydrogen bonds -- the chemical bonds between water molecules in an ice crystal -- is decreased under increasing concentrations of CO2. This is because the added CO2 competes with the water molecules connected in the ice crystal.

It was shown that CO2 molecules first adhere to the crack boundary of ice by forming a bond with the hydrogen atoms and then migrate through the ice in a flipping motion along the crack boundary towards the crack tip.

The CO2 molecules accumulate at the crack tip and constantly attack the water molecules by trying to bond to them. This leaves broken bonds behind and increases the brittleness of the ice on a macroscopic scale.


Obama thinks CO2 "eats" planet

It FERTILIZES the planet, in fact

President Barack Obama warned his  supporters about the threat of global warming and vowed that more money to subsidize green energy firms would prevent it.

“By the way, yes, my plan will reduce the carbon pollution that is eating our planet because climate change is not a hoax,” Obama said at a campaign rally at the Bank United Arena at the University of Miami. “More droughts and hurricanes and wildfires, that’s not a joke. That’s a threat to our children’s future, and we can do something about it.”

Obama said that he planned to spend more money to subsidize green projects such as wind and solar if elected to a second term. Obama’s Republican opponent Mitt Romney has criticized him for spending $90 billion on green energy companies, many of which went into bankruptcy.

This week, the House Energy and Commerce Committee announced it is seeking information from the Department of Energy about a $400 million loan to Abound Solar, which recently filed for bankruptcy. Abound was the fifth stimulus-funded green energy firm and the third to file for bankruptcy after Solyndra and Beacon Power.

Obama vowed to pay for the subsidies by taking away tax breaks to oil companies.

“So, now you’ve got a choice. My plan would cut our oil imports in half and invest in the clean energy that has created thousands of jobs all across America,” the president said at the Florida rally.

“Not just oil and natural gas, but wind and solar and clean coal technologies and fuel efficient cars and long lasting batteries. If you want to know how we’re paying for it, one of the things we do not allow oil companies to collect another $4 billion in taxpayer-funded corporate welfare every single year,” Obama added.


Europe seeing 'golden age of coal', not gas - IEA

This must be causing a lot of weeping and wailing and garnishing of teeth in Greenie circles

 Europe is seeing a 'golden age of coal' thanks to cheap U.S. exports, said a senior gas analyst at the International Energy Agency (IEA), an advisory body which last year proclaimed the world was heading for a 'golden age of gas.'

Europe is exempt from a surge in unconventional gas sources that led the agency to declare the start of a new era for the fuel because on the old continent demand for gas in power plants has been largely replaced by cheap coal.

"In Europe no golden age of gas will come. Europe is an exception to the revolution," Anne-Sophie Corbeau, senior gas analyst at the IEA, said at a conference in London.

She said gas was losing the battle in Europe's power plants against cheap coal coming from the U.S., where the discovery of shale gas has left huge oversupply in unwanted coal.

"We may be talking of a golden age of coal in Europe and this is (in) contrast with what is happening in the U.S.," Corbeau said, echoing comments from the IEA's head made in Vienna on Thursday.

In her medium-term gas market outlook, she added that former Soviet states and North America will be the main suppliers of gas globally, followed by Asia Oceania - mainly Australia - and the Middle East.

Growing supply from other continents stands in sharp contrast with Europe, where gas production is forecast to drop nearly 20 percent until 2017.

Gas importing countries should also not expect any additional supply coming from the world's largest liquefied natural gas (LNG) exporter Qatar, where no new projects are being developed in the coming five years, Corbeau said.

Additionally, demand from Middle Eastern countries such as the UAE or Oman will sap some of Qatar's supply.

SOURCE.  (Yes.  I know it's "gnashing")

"Green" tax dodgers

The Internal Revenue Service urged a bankruptcy judge to reject solar panel maker Solyndra LLC's bankruptcy plan Wednesday, saying it amounts to little more than an avenue for owners of an empty corporate shell to avoid paying taxes.

"The undeniable conclusion is that tax benefits drive this plan," attorneys for the IRS wrote in a bankruptcy pleading.

Arguing that the bankruptcy court ought not confirm a plan "whose principal purpose is tax avoidance," attorneys said in filings in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Delaware that the tax breaks would be worth more money than funds set aside for creditors.

Taxpayers are on the hook for more than a half-billion dollars after the company filed for bankruptcy last year, just two years after winning a loan guarantee from the Department of Energy.

What's more, government attorneys said that as far back as 2010, Solyndra owners had "planned meticulously" to be able to use Solyndra's net operating losses to offset future tax liabilities.

"The only reason for the shell corporation to exist post-confirmation is to enable its owners to exploit these tax attributes, which would be lost in liquidation," the IRS argued in court papers.

One owner valued the so-called tax attributes at $150 million, dwarfing the $7 million to $8 million set aside by the reorganization plan for unsecured creditors, according to the government's objection, which was filed by the Justice Department on behalf of the IRS.

Under Solyndra's reorganization plan, two big investors in the company, Madrone Partners LP and Argonaut Ventures, together would own nearly all of a shell company formed in the wake of Solyndra's bankruptcy reorganization.

But the IRS said in court papers that there was little reason for the shell company to exist other than to help the owners avoid taxes. Argonaut is the investment arm of a family foundation headed by Oklahoma businessman George Kaiser, a fundraiser for Barack Obama's 2008 presidential campaign. Madrone has ties to the family that owns Wal-Mart Stores Inc.


Germany's Green Energy Transition In Crisis

They're spending more and more for less and less

German citizens will be paying a total of more than €20 billion ($25.7 billion) next year to promote renewable energy. This is more than €175 for an average three-person household, a 50 percent increase over current figures. The development is an embarrassment to Germany’s coalition government.

Germany plans to abandon nuclear power by 2022, but its government hasn’t been doing enough to ensure that the project succeeds. Needed infrastructure and technology is lacking, and coordination is a mess. Meanwhile, weary consumers are paying more for electricity, and the supply is in jeopardy.

On Monday, grid operators announced a significant increase in electricity prices in Germany, prices that are already the second-highest in Europe.

The price hike is the result of an assessment under the Renewable Energy Act (EEG), a sort of green-energy solidarity surcharge that is automatically added to every consumer’s electricity bill. Under the agreement reached in the last round of negotiations, the assessment will increase from 3.6 cents to 5.4 cents per kilowatt hour.

With the new rates, German citizens will be paying a total of more than €20 billion ($25.7 billion) next year to promote renewable energy. This is more than €175 for an average three-person household, a 50 percent increase over current figures. And then there are the additional charges a consumer pays for the electricity tax, the cogeneration assessment, the concession fee and value-added tax.

The development is an embarrassment to Germany’s coalition government, made up of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s center-right Christian Democratic Union (CDU), its Bavarian sister party, the Christian Social Union (CSU), and the pro-business Free Democratic Party (FDP). In recent months, the government has denied claims that the gradual transition to green energy could cost German citizens a load of money.

Broken Promises

In a government statement issued in June 2011, Chancellor Angela Merkel promised that prices would remain stable. “The EEG assessment should not increase above its current level,” she told the German parliament, the Bundestag. Economics Minister Rösler said that there could even be “room for decreases.” The environment ministers, first Norbert Röttgen and then Peter Altmaier, behaved as if Germany’s phase-out of nuclear energy was not going to cost anything, even as they handed out billions in subsidies to owners of homes with solar panels and wind-farm operators.

Merkel must now deal with the consequences of her statement that the energy turnaround was to be the most important domestic project in the legislative period. Within a few hours after the nuclear reactor disaster in Fukushima in March 2011, she had transformed herself from a proponent into an opponent of nuclear energy. At the time, most Germans supported the chancellor. But now, more than a year later, they are losing confidence in her ability to get it right. German politician and EU Energy Commissioner Günther Oettinger says that he doubts “whether German consumers will accept rising electricity prices resulting from the energy turnaround in the long term.”

The rising cost of electricity is also a burden on businesses. According to Oettinger, energy costs now represent the biggest liability for Germany as a place to do business, especially in light of the marked increase in the number of blackouts and voltage fluctuations in the grid.

Consumer advocates view the electricity price as a social issue, not unlike the price of bread in ancient Rome. The Paritätischer Gesamtverband, an umbrella association for social-welfare groups, estimates that about 200,000 recipients of benefits under the Hartz IV welfare reform program for the long-term unemployed saw their power shut off last year because of unpaid bills. The VdK, Germany’s largest welfare organization, uses the term “electricity poverty” and is sharply critical of what it sees as a “glaring violation of basic social rights.” According to the VdK, it is unfair that citizens are being asked to bear much of the burden of costs and risks associated with the energy turnaround.

Wasted Time and Money

This Wednesday, Environment Minister Altmaier plans to unveil a proposal on how to move forward with legislation designed to promote green energy. Members of the Bundestag from the ruling coalition want to exempt a growing number of companies from the green energy assessment. FDP parliamentary floor leader Rainer Brüderle is calling for a moratorium on new roof-based solar modules and wind turbines. Meanwhile, the center-left Social Democratic Party (SPD) and the Green Party are discussing whether energy providers should be compelled to offer special rates for low-income customers. Economics Minister Rösler, whose visit to a boiler room in Hönow marked the beginning of a new promotional campaign, wants to encourage citizens to conserve energy.

The central question in all of this is whether the money coming from electricity consumers is being spent wisely. If the federal government wants to have all of Germany’s nuclear power plants phased out by 2022, why is it doing so little to ensure that the project will succeed?

Billions are currently being spent on the unchecked expansion of solar energy — a technology that contributes the least to a reliable power supply in Germany, which isn’t exactly famous for abundant sunshine. The comparatively efficient building renovation programs, on the other, have come to a standstill because the federal and state governments have been quarreling over funding for more than a year now....

Meanwhile, Germany's 16 federal states are developing their own concepts, some of which are at odds with each other. Bavarian Governor Horst Seehofer says that his state plans to develop a self-sufficient energy supply. But David McAllister, the governor of the northern state of Lower Saxony, has a plan based on supplying Bavaria with large amounts of electricity from wind farms off the North Sea coast.

What some grid operators, power plant owners and scientists are doing today is nothing short of flabbergasting. There are power plants that are not connected to the grid, power masts without lines, and power lines leading to nowhere.


Australia: Another "green" firm bites the dust

AUSTRALIA'S largest manufacturer of clean energy producing wind turbine towers has collapsed spectacularly, sending another 156 workers home yesterday.

They joined a further 154 who were laid off immediately on Monday after the company called in voluntary administrator Ferrier Hodgson.

Ferrier Hodgson confirmed the 156 Wacol workers were told to report back to the facility on Monday.

The loss of clean energy jobs enraged the Australian Manufacturing Workers' Union, which warned that without strong anti-dumping laws and tougher industry participation more manufacturers would shut down.

AMWU State Secretary Rohan Webb said imported turbine towers for major wind farm projects endangered local manufacturing jobs.

"Sadly for these areas, skills and technology will now also be lost to Australian manufacturing," Mr Webb said.

Ferrier Hodgson partners Peter Gothard, Jim Sarantinos and Timothy Michael were put in charge of four companies in the RPG Group on Friday: RPG Holdings, Rollpress Proplate Group, RPG (SA), and RPG Pipe.

"The business is primarily involved in the construction of large steel structures, such as wind power-generation towers, the pilings for wharfs and bridges, pipes and other steel structures for the mining and renewable energy sectors," Ferrier Hodgson said in a statement.

"The administrators are hopeful that ongoing support from all stakeholders will allow for a sale of the remaining businesses to take place and the employment of staff preserved."

Dismissed staff were yet to discover if they would receive their full entitlements, with creditors due to place their claims before administrators at a meeting on Wednesday.

RPG is a 60-year-old Queensland company, which began life as GM Gurr - a small fabricator - before expanding into heavy steel processing and fabrication, and production of wind turbine towers.

A statement by federal member for Oxley Bernie Ripoll, whose electorate encompasses the Wacol facility, said "to date 83 per cent of projects for wind turbines have been locally manufactured. RPG has supplied in excess of 50 per cent of these towers".




Preserving the graphics:  Graphics hotlinked to this site sometimes have only a short life and if I host graphics with blogspot, the graphics sometimes get shrunk down to illegibility.  From January 2011 on, therefore, I have posted a monthly copy of everything on this blog to a separate site where I can host text and graphics together -- which should make the graphics available even if they are no longer coming up on this site.  See  here and here


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