Friday, April 05, 2013
World's solar power won't save ANY energy until 2020
A new study has claimed the vast construction of solar farms around the globe has used so much fossil fuel they will not contribute any 'real' energy to the world until 2020.
The Stanford University study analysed the fossil fuels used in the construction of solar panels.
It found the panels have only just begun to surpass the amount of energy ploughed into created new solar installations.
The energy used to produce solar panels is intense, the new report found. The initial step in producing the silicon at the heart of most panels is to melt silica rock at 3,000 degrees Fahrenheit using electricity, commonly from coal-fired power plants.
There is also an energy cost in shipping and installing the panels.
With continued technological advances, the industry is poised to pay off its debt of energy as early as 2015, and no later than 2020, the report concluded.
'This analysis shows that the industry is making positive strides,' said Michael Dale, who developed the method for assessing the industry's progress for the journal Environmental Science & Technology.
'Despite its fantastically fast growth rate, PV is producing – or just about to start producing – a net energy benefit to society.'
Supporters of solar power hope the industry will develop new, easier to produce panels.
'Developing new technologies with lower energy requirements will allow us to grow the industry at a faster rate,' said Sally Benson of Stanford's Global Climate & Energy Project.
To be considered a success – or simply a positive energy technology – PV panels must ultimately pay back all the energy that went into them, said Dale.
The PV industry ran an energy deficit from 2000 to now, consuming 75 percent more energy than it produced just five years ago.
The energy payback time can also be reduced by installing PV panels in locations with high quality solar resources, like the desert Southwest in the United States and the Middle East, the team believe.
They say many panels are simply installed in the wrong countries.
'At the moment, Germany makes up about 40 percent of the installed market, but sunshine in Germany isn't that great,' Dale said.
'So from a system perspective, it may be better to deploy PV systems where there is more sunshine.'
Why the Climate Movement is up against it
A Warmist sees through the dark glassily below: "The climate movement challenges human nature". And note that it's a "movement", rather than a science. Just another Messianic religion -- JR
The climate movement can’t be compared to any other social movement in history. Here’s why it’s unprecedented and why we need new strategies to transition from the current climate movement of the few to a vibrant worldwide movement of the many.
First, the climate movement is historically unique in scope and urgency. Never before has an issue involved every single human being on this planet, and never before has the window for action been so short. (An International Energy Agency report states that we have until 2017 to start the transition away from fossil fuels before irreversible calamity.)
Second, the climate movement challenges human nature. Past social movements have focused on immediate and visible injustices. People fought against the here and now for a better tomorrow and beyond. That model of activism is consistent with human nature: we are creatures of immediate benefit and short-term thinking. But climate change is a completely different animal. Yes, global warming is having an undeniable and tangible effect on people’s lives. But by the time enough people--especially in the US--have experienced enough of the consequences of climate change to be compelled to action, it will be too late to mitigate the effects of rising planetary temperatures. Therefore, fighting climate change means fighting something that is abstract now but will be real later. This requirement defies the deep pull of human nature. It is antithetical to our normal ways of thinking and acting. This is one of the reasons why it is so difficult to mobilize a climate movement. This is new territory. There is no parallel in human experience.
Climate Science Humiliated…Earlier Model Prognoses Of Warmer Winters Now Today’s Laughingstock
“The Earth has a fever,” we were told. “The science is settled and the debate is over. Scientists are unanimous - 97% of them agree: climate change is real, and is happening now, and we’ve got to act quickly.”
Over more than two decades we were told again and again that everywhere was warming faster than everywhere else – especially winters were warming up quickly. Snow was becoming a thing of the past and children soon weren’t going to know what it is. “The warm winters that we are seeing are just a harbinger of what’s to come,” the media declared just a couple of years ago. The scientists were cock-sure.
Today we are finding that precisely the exact opposite is happening. Winters in Europe have turned colder and more severe. Central Europe has seen its 5th consecutive colder than normal winter in a row – a record since measurements began in the 19th century.
Climate scientists first reacted by claiming, “One winter does not make a trend“. Then they said that the cold winters were a local phenomenon. Finally they were forced to recently claim, “Cold winters now fit the picture of global warming!”
List of failed predictions
What follows are dozens of predictions for warmer winters made not long ago during the 2000s, many by leading scientists. What started as a simple Google search, turned into a list of false winter predictions for Central Europe, particularly Germany. By sheer coincidence reader Jimbo sent over his own list of false wintertime predictions made by “experts” in the US and Great Britain. I’ve combined the two lists and present one long list to you. Of course we still have to wait (90 years in some cases) to see how some of the predictions inevitably turn out, but current trends do not bode well for them.
Unfortunately, many of these predictions were passed on as reliable predictions to various sectors of industry, so that they could prepare for the new future that awaited. Many of these industries, like tourism, skiing, agriculture, highway maintenance, etc. based their investment decisions in part on these forecasts. As we now know, they turned out to be false – completely false – and the costs will be billions. Readers are welcome to suggest other false wintertime predictions, which we will gladly add to the list.
Failed winter climate predictions
(The first 33 concern mostly Germany and Central Europe)
1. “Due to global warming, the coming winters in the local regions will become milder.”
Stefan Rahmstorf, Potsdam Institute of Climate Impact Research, University of Potsdam, 8 Feb 2006
2. “Milder winters, drier summers: Climate study shows a need to adapt in Saxony Anhalt.”
Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, Press Release, 10 Jan 2010.
3. “More heat waves, no snow in the winter“ … “Climate models… over 20 times more precise than the UN IPCC global models. In no other country do we have more precise calculations of climate consequences. They should form the basis for political planning. … Temperatures in the wintertime will rise the most … there will be less cold air coming to Central Europe from the east. …In the Alps winters will be 2°C warmer already between 2021 and 2050.”
Max Planck Institute for Meteorology, Hamburg, 2 Sept 2008.
4. “The new Germany will be characterized by dry-hot summers and warm-wet winters.“
Wilhelm Gerstengarbe and Peter Werner, Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK), 2 March 2007
5. “Clear climate trends are seen from the computer simulations. Foremost the winter months will be warmer all over Germany. Depending of CO2 emissions, temperatures will rise by up to 4°C, in the Alps by up to 5°C.”Max Planck Institute for Meteorology, Hamburg, 7 Dec 2009.
6. “In summer under certain conditions the scientists reckon with a complete melting of the Arctic sea ice. For Europe we expect an increase in drier and warmer summers. Winters on the other hand will be warmer and wetter.”
Erich Roeckner, Max Planck Institute, Hamburg, 29 Sept 2005.
7. “The more than ‘unusually‘ warm January weather is yet ‘another extreme event’, ‘a harbinger of the winters that are ahead of us’. … The global temperature will ‘increase every year by 0.2°C’”
Michael Müller, Socialist, State Secretary in the Federal Ministry of Environment, in Die Zeit, 15 Jan 2007
8. “Harsh winters likely will be more seldom and precipitation in the wintertime will be heavier everywhere. However, due to the milder temperatures, it’ll fall more often as rain than as snow.”
Online-Atlas of the Helmholtz-Gemeinschaft, 2010
9. “We’ve mostly had mild winters in which only a few cold months were scattered about, like January 2009. This winter is a cold outlier, but that doesn’t change the picture as a whole. Generally it’s going to get warmer, also in the wintertime.”
Gerhard Müller-Westermeier, German Weather Service (DWD), 26 Jan 2010
10. “Winters with strong frost and lots of snow like we had 20 years ago will cease to exist at our latitudes.”
Mojib Latif, Max Planck Institute for Meteorology, Hamburg, 1 April 2000
Coal makes a comeback in Europe as conventional gas dries up
Europe’s declining competitiveness with U.S. industry has its leaders worried, but they admit having no hope of matching the shale revolution that is powering a revival of manufacturing across the Atlantic.
For Europe to remain in the game, energy taxes must be held in check and no new taxes levied, said the European Union’s energy commissioner, Gunther Oettinger.
Instead, Europe must use its energy more efficiently and the European Union’s 27 member countries should open their energy markets to cross-border competition, Oettinger said at a news conference last week in Brussels.
With its conventional gas fields nearly depleted and gas prices four times higher than in the United States, Europe would like to develop a thriving shale gas industry, but that seems unlikely in the near term.
“We do not have that many North Dakotas in Europe. We do not have those deserted areas where you can drill and no one is being asked or complaining,” said Connie Hedegaard, the European Union’s commissioner for climate action.
European drillers also face greater geological challenges, more stringent environmental regulations and stronger public skepticism of hydraulic fracturing.
“We will not see prices in Europe for shale gas come down to the level in the U.S.,” she said.
There is no E.U. regulation against unconventional drilling, although the environment commission is drawing up guidelines of best practices. Each country is free to chose whether to drill. So far, fracking has been conducted on a test basis, and two countries, France and Bulgaria, have banned the technique for now.
Oettinger and Hedegaard jointly were releasing a policy paper setting the framework for climate and energy targets for the decade after 2020. Documents released alongside the Green Paper made it clear the trends are not running in the climate’s favor.
Europe is in a quandary. For years, it has claimed to be a global leader in fighting climate change and slashing carbon emissions. Now it finds itself running out of conventional gas and turning back to dirty coal. Oettinger said onshore and North Sea gas deposits will be depleted by 2035 or 2040.
The price of imported gas from long-term contracts remains stubbornly high because Europe’s suppliers — Russia, Norway, Algeria and Qatar — link them to oil prices. Producing some shale gas would help Europe decouple the gas-to-oil index, the energy commissioner said.
In the meantime, coal is increasingly the option of choice.
Although Europe mines more than 70 percent of its own coal, it has been buying the surplus coal spurned by the U.S. power sector after American plants shifted largely to gas. These imports have “potentially halted, and to some extent reversed a two decade long trend of decreasing coal consumption,” says one document.
Coal is cheap not only because U.S. supplies are sold at bargain prices but because the penalty for emitting too much carbon has become almost insignificant.
Europe’s cap-and-trade program is meant to make it expensive for industry to pollute. Industries that emit more carbon dioxide than permitted must buy pollution permits from facilities that release less CO2 than allowed. The market price is determined by the availability of those permits.
In practice, the economic recession has led to an industrial slowdown, less emissions and an overabundance of permits for sale. Thus, the price of carbon has collapsed to less than €5 per ton.
That means buying carbon credits to burn coal is cheaper than fueling power stations with expensive gas. Analysts say a price of €20 is needed to incentivize power plants to switch to low-carbon energy.
“Coal has become a new and economically interesting input for power production in the E.U.,” says the paper. “The lifetime of power plants that were expected to close is now being extended, and as such the risk related to carbon lock-in for new fossil fuel developments increases.”
In Britain alone, the use of gas in power stations dropped 31 percent and the use of coal rose by the same amount from 2011 to 2012, driving a 4.5 percent increase in carbon emissions, according to figures released last week by the U.K. Department of Climate and Energy.
North Sea Fracking: Britain’s Next Energy Revolution?
A small oil drilling firm has announced its intention to develop offshore fracking in the central North Sea. Trapoil is working up plans that would extend the technology from its extensive use onshore in North America.
It claimed there could be more oil and gas from unconventional technology than all of the output so far produced from the North Sea.
Trapoil plans test drilling a well next year, if it can find a partner for the project.
The company said the well could be "game-changing", if it could prove that oil will flow out of tight reservoirs at a commercial rate.
The fracking process involves using high-pressure liquid to fracture shale rock in order to release oil and gas.
In a statement accompanying its annual results, Trapoil said: "The amount of oil potentially held in tight reservoirs is equal to, or probably greater than, all of the oil produced to date from the UK North Sea.
"The possible prize is therefore substantial, but this asset is still very much in its infancy and we will need to perform a considerable amount of work before drilling may occur."
The cost of "proof of concept" test drilling, targeted for 2014 and in partnership with Extract, is too expensive for a smaller drilling firm, so they would have to find a larger partner.
That reflects annual results for the London-based firm that are downbeat about the financial constraints smaller operators are facing.
It made a pre-tax loss of £10.8m last year. With its Athena field coming on stream last year, it had revenue of less than £2m, though that is expected to increase significantly during this year.
Trapoil had two discoveries last year, but recently announced its Magnolia prospect had been unsuccessful.
Pipelines and Pipe Dreams
Whom does Barack Obama want to please more -- out-of-work adults who would love a high-wage job building the Keystone XL pipeline or tony venture capitalists who travel cloistered in private jets when they're not complaining that Washington doesn't do enough about global warming?
On Wednesday night, the president attended a $5,000-a-head cocktail fundraiser, hosted by climate change capitalist Tom Steyer. On Tuesday, Steyer, who has been both a big Democratic donor and a vocal opponent of the Keystone pipeline, told the San Francisco Chronicle's Carla Marinucci that the president "knows exactly what's right on this issue, and he knows what to do."
Steyer added that he is "super-optimistic that if we make clear" the pipeline's cost to the health of Americans and the U.S. economy, "people will agree ... and political action will follow."
Steyer must think his money talks more loudly than the American people. A new Pew Research Center poll found that 66 percent of Americans support the pipeline; a mere 23 percent oppose it. That's probably because the State Department estimates that the $7 billion project would create 3,900 construction jobs annually. In January, 53 senators, including nine Democrats, sent a letter that urged the president to approve the project.
The president should heed public sentiment and approve Keystone. The pipeline fits with his promise of an "all-of-the-above policy" that utilizes "every source of American-made energy" -- both green energy and fossil fuels.
American oil promotes energy independence. The pipeline would transport oil from the Alberta tar sands and the Bakken shale formation in North Dakota and Montana. Canada is an esteemed neighbor with strong trade reciprocation and a solid human rights record.
The Sierra Club calls the project "the dirtiest oil project in the country." It's not a pristine process. Extraction from tar sands releases more carbon into the atmosphere than other methods and leaves behind the sort of toxic ponds that can make even a Republican think, "Thank God for regulation."
There are mitigations, however, such as the lesser environmental toll involved in moving oil a shorter distance (from Canada, not Venezuela) via pipeline.
To true believers of global warming, however, Keystone's passage represents "game over" in their effort to block new energy exploration. In the name of science, they ignore technology and the reality of today's global economy. To wit: If Keystone doesn't move Alberta's oil, someone else will, and someone else -- read: China -- will use it.
Don't take my word for it. New York Times environmental blogger Andrew C. Revkin recently wrote that in the global oil market, "it's high demand that drives the oil-extraction imperative. Until you start to do the things we've been talking about to cut demand, you can blockade a certain pipeline or whatever but that oil will out. ... It'll be Nigeria or the Arctic if it's not Alberta."
In 2008, I asked Sierra Club Deputy Executive Director Bruce Hamilton where it would be OK to drill in California, and he refused to name any new projects.
Global warming's true believers seem to think that if they block smart projects, the laws of economics will evaporate and America will produce cheap green energy at no cost to anyone. Not in the real world.
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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
Posted by JR at 4:13 PM