Monday, September 28, 2015

Big British power generator pulls out of Government's £1bn green energy project

Drax blames cuts in support for renewable energy for its decision not to build a carbon capture and storage facility next to its North Yorkshire power station

A £1bn green energy plan backed by the Government has been dealt a major blow after one of the UK’s top power companies pulled out of the project.

Drax blamed cuts in support for renewable energy for its decision not to build a carbon capture and storage facility next to its North Yorkshire power station.

"We’ve also got concerns about the government’s future support for the low carbon agenda"
Peter Emery, Drax

“Critical reversals” in Government policy had led to “a severe impact on our profitability” and made it too risky to proceed with the White Rose carbon capture plant, Peter Emery, the Drax board member chairing the group that oversees the project, told the Financial Times.

"We’ve also got concerns about the government’s future support for the low carbon agenda and that’s left us in a position where we are no longer confident we can persuade our shareholders that this is an attractive investment, given the obvious risks,” he added.

“The Government has to make difficult decisions based on affordability and, in turn, so are we."

The Conservatives’ measures to rein in green subsidies have put renewable energy projects under pressure.

No carbon capture projects have been built in the UK, despite the Government offering a £1bn incentive eight years ago. Energy ministers are understood to be committed to developing the technology in this country.

Drax had invested £3m into developing its carbon capture project, which takes harmful gases from burning coal and traps them underground.

Drax had invested £3m into developing its carbon capture project

Its partners in the plant's consortium - France’s Alstom and the BOC industrial gas group - said Drax's decision was "disappointing" but vowed to complete the deal.

Drax's moves leaves just one carbon capture and storage project running in the UK. Shell is retro-fitting the technology onto SSE's gas-fired plant at Peterhead in Scotland. Up to 10m tonnes of CO2 will be sent through the Golden Eye pipeline to storage sites in deep rock formations below the North Sea.

Luke Warren, chief executive of the Carbon Capture Storage Association, said: “While it is disappointing news for Drax that they will not be participating as an investor in White Rose, it is clearly positive that they recognise the value of this exciting project and are fully behind its development at the Drax site.

It is also encouraging to hear that Capture Power remains committed to the delivery of the project and the UK CCS commercialisation programme. White Rose is key to delivering real benefits to the Yorkshire and Humber region by developing the CO2 infrastructure that provides the foundation for a low-carbon industry in the region.

"The coming months are absolutely critical for CCS in the UK and the Government must successfully deliver two projects from the CCS competition in order to achieve its goals of delivering a cost-competitive CCS industry in the 2020s. Failure to secure this investment will set back CCS by more than a decade with profound implications for the UK's energy, industrial and climate policies."


Feds Decide Against Endangered Listing for Greater Sage-Grouse

In a video posted on Twitter on Tuesday Interior Secretary Sally Jewell announced that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife has determined that it is not necessary to protect the greater Sage-grouse in 11 western states by listing it as threatened under the Endangered Species Act.

“Today I’m proud to mark a milestone for conservation in America,” Jewell said in the video. “Because of an unprecedented effort by dozens of partners across 11 western states, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has determined that the greater Sage-grouse does not require protection under the Endangered Species Act.”

“An unprecedented, landscape-scale conservation effort across the western United States has significantly reduced threats to the greater sage-grouse across 90 percent of the species’ breeding habitat and enabled the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) to conclude that the charismatic rangeland bird does not warrant protection under the Endangered Species Act (ESA),” a press release announcing the decision stated. “This collaborative, science-based greater sage-grouse strategy is the largest land conservation effort in U.S. history.”

A group of attorneys responded to the decision with a blog expressing the “relief” felt by western states that would have been impacted by the listing.

“On September 22, energy developers in the West breathed a sigh of relief when the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) announced that the greater sage-grouse does not require protection under the Endangered Species Act (ESA),” BakerHostetler’s North America Shale Blog said in an online posting on Wednesday. “The FWS noted that in 2010 it believed that ‘habitat loss, fragmentation, and inadequacy of existing regulatory mechanisms’ could warrant ESA listing for the grouse.

“Yet five years later, focused public-private conservation partnerships have borne fruit, as FWS now says that “[b]ased on the best available scientific and commercial information, we have determined that the primary threats to greater sage-grouse have been ameliorated by conservation efforts implemented by federal, state, and private landowners,’” the blog stated.

“BakerHostetler’s 80-attorney energy team is comprised of lawyers across the U.S. who are leaders in their respective fields in representing oil and gas clients,” according to its website.

The blog called the decision a “joint stewardship success story” that will benefit the energy boom in the United States.

“The past five years have seen a world-class boom in U.S. unconventional oil production, with a sizable share of that coming from the Intermountain West and basin and range country the sage-grouse inhabits. Indeed, Colorado, Montana, Utah, and Wyoming, which provide core sage-grouse habitat, have seen crude oil output double since the FWS began to consider listing the grouse in 2010,” the blog stated. “These states now produce approximately one of every 12 barrels of crude oil pumped in the U.S. each day.”

In the video, a vast landscape of sagebrush is shown as Jewell’s narrates.

“The greater sage-grouse is an amazing bird – unique to the vast sagebrush landscapes of the American West,” Jewell said. “One that historically used to ‘darken the skies’ as vast numbers took flight.”

Jewell also listed the threats to the Sage-grouse, including wildfires, weather and human development, but the overall message conceded that the states can manage their land and its resources without federal regulations.

“The FWS’s September 30, 2015 deadline to review the status of the species spurred numerous federal agencies, the 11 states in the range, and dozens of public and private partners to undertake an extraordinary campaign to protect, restore and enhance important sage-grouse habitat to preclude the need to list the species,” the announcement stated.

“This effort featured: new management direction for BLM and Forest Service land use plans that place greater emphasis on conserving sage-grouse habitat; development of state sage-grouse management plans; voluntary, multi-partner private lands effort to protect millions of acres of habitat on ranches and rangelands across the West; unprecedented collaboration with federal, state and private sector scientists; and a comprehensive strategy to fight rangeland fires,” it added.


Crazy Capers of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research

The Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, commonly known as “PIK” has been among Germany’s foremost climate doomsayers, oops, I mean prognosticators.

Hardly a day goes by without one or the other PIK press releases telling the world that “we’ll all die if we do not … [decarbonize, or whatever]”. Some of their pronunciations even want you to think “we’ll all die, even if we do… [decarbonize, or whatever]” and that has nothing to do with the coming “Blood Moon” of Sep. 27/28, 2015, supposedly portending that the end of the world is nigh.

What are the poor schmucks like you and me to do in such a no-win situation?

The PIK is led by its founder and current president, Prof. Dr. HJ Schellnhuber, recently nominated member of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, etc. Another outspoken doomsayer of the PIK is Prof. Dr. S. Rahmstorf. Actually, I think he’s running much of the daily doom-and-gloom show. From the (not exactly) melting Arctic sea-ice and the (not exactly) drowning polar bears, to the (not exactly) disappearing Antarctic ice shield and the (not exactly) dieing penguins, Rahmstorf and/or Schellnhuber have a finger-wagging answer for everything.

The fact that they are more wrong than right is immaterial, at least in their view – spare me with details. Actually, you can count yourself lucky to even get an answer to any question you may have about their numerous proclamations of climate doom and related items; presumably they are too busy to crack the whip over their new supercomputer to spit out the “correctly” prognosticated scenarios for 10,000 years from now or so. Just too bad that none of them will be around by then to be held accountable for their wrong predictions.

As of late, PIK’s messages of doom appear to be getting bolder and more deceptive than ever before.

For example, one of their latest “photos” shows “The ‘eternal ice’ of Antarctica,” as reproduced here (PIK-photo on left). Nice shot – if it were not “photo-shopped” to the hilt, as I suspect, despite their claim to the contrary. As it so happens, a very similar photo (shown on the right) taken approximately a year later by another expedition certainly looks more realistic (Jo Cox).

What’s even more deceptive in PIK’s picture is the caption with the phrase “eternal ice” that appears to have melted away, except for a few pieces still floating forlorn on the sea and two, possibly superimposed, images of icebergs. Well, that picture was taken near the Rothera Research Station,located close to the northern tip of the continent Antarctica at the latitude of 67.5 S and, therefore, barely within the Antarctic, as defined by southern polar circle. As the crow flies, that is about 2,500 km from the South Pole and, therefore, it is certainly not in a region of “eternal sea-ice.”

This “photo” by PIK comes with the latest warning of “Burning all fossil energy would raise sea-level by more than 50 meters – and eliminate all ice of Antarctica.” Further on, it states “Crossing this [2 degree C] threshold, however, would in the long run destabilize both West and East Antarctica…”

That 2 degree C threshold or, for that matter, any other “degree threshold” are purely figments of their exuberant imagination. There is no climate threshold in nature, no “tipping point” or other boundary of sorts; they are all myths. The height of PIK’s doomsayer irresponsibility must be the continued insistence on theircomputer simulation’s predictions being “right.”

PIK’s Computer Simulations

PIK‘s computer models are modeling the world “climate” and claim, for example, that anything past a two degree (C) warming will spell disaster for much of mankind. Of course, as they see it, the use of fossil fuels is the source of that claimed calamity. The German and some other governments have bought into such claims and want to do away with most or all of coal, oil, and natural gas for all purposes within three decades or so, or even sooner.

PIK’s latest news is even more astounding: On Sep. 11, 2015, their website referred to a new study to be published soon with the headline “Burning all fossil energy would raise sea-level by more than 50 meters – and eliminate all ice of Antarctica.” PIK’s computer spoke; we are all doomed… You can read up on all the gory details at Science Advances. Oh, no need to rush though, the study says “We examine the [Antarctic] ice-sheet evolution over the next ten thousand years with the Parallel Ice Sheet Model…” so you’ll have a few years to digest the info. By then, a revised model may give you the exact date …

Just remember though, 10,000 years ago,Canada, central Europe and much of Asia were covered with a thick layer of ice that disappeared, presumably, because some of our early ancestors lit fires in some caves producing copious amounts of carbon dioxide.

The “beauty” of all these computer models is that they can neither be proven nor disproven within a reasonable time frame. However, in the past 25 years or so, ALL of the highfalutin 100+ world-climate-prediction-super-computer models failed totally. None of them predicted the “warming-pause” but each thought to know best. Dr. T. Ball recently described the problem in detail in his post “Is It Time to Stop the Insanity of Wasting Time and Money on More Climate Models?” Even the most assertive (“extremely likely”) model predictions for a decade out made just a few years ago were well above the actual observed temperatures. Does anyone really think that such models can even vaguely predict the earth’s climate 10,000 years from now?

On the basis of such models, some deluded people appear to truly believe that the world can (and should) replace all that carbon-based energy with a few windmills and solar panels. However, that’s not yet the height of delusion; for example, Germany has also committed to phase out all nuclear power generation within a few years from now to be replaced with wind and sun energy, all at the same time.

Wind Energy

Indeed, if and when the wind blows strongly, the current 10,000+ windmills in Germany produce electric power. Even if you want to disregard the blight of such in the former natural landscape, even if you are willing to forget their disastrous effects on birds, bats, butterflies and other creatures, and even if you forget the demands for new country-side roads to just build and maintain the windmills, they are not the panacea claimed. In fact, many of these the windmills consumepower for blade pitch control, yaw (directional) control, blade icing prevention, gear and/or hub heating, even when they produce some. But it’s “good business” for their builders and owners as they have government-guaranteed construction benefits as well as feed-in tariffs and delivery-preference over other energy sources. In other words, they are buying their standby power for a few cents per kWh and selling their product at a guaranteed multiple of that—whenever the wind blows. It’s like having your cake and eating it too; a win-win situation for the windmill developers and a guaranteed-loss situation for all electricity consumers.

How unprofitable the wind-power is in much of Germany has been shown in a study on 1,200 systems there over the last 13 years. That study shows that 2/3rds of the wind-farms within Germany were operating with a loss, despite the subventions.

Of course, such a system only is possible with large government subsidies. In reality though, the “government” is you and me and every other taxpayer who is forced to pay that bill, including your and my children and grandchildren – and well into the future. However, I’ve not mentioned the even more crazy aspect of the wind-power systems, namely their typical operating life span before major repairs or costly “upgrades” are needed.
Windmill Operating Life

The purveyors of such “modern” versions of 12th century windmill technology are keen to quote a 20-25 year operating life for their monstrosities. Actual experience though is different. The average time for wind turbines operating without major problems is more like eight years. After that, very costly repairs to gear boxes and other “improvements” are needed. For example, the hamlet of Wildpoldsried in southern Germany recently blasted two wind-turbine towers into oblivion after only ten years of operation. Among the reasons given was the “difficulty to get spare parts.”

No wonder, from small villages in southern Germany to cities in Sweden, such wind-power installations are being replaced well before their previously touted “best before date” with newer, more “modern” and/or “more efficient” designs. Oh yeah, the new designs will be lasting so much longer than the old ones, paying for themselves (as well as the previous systems not yet paid for by lower than expected income from insufficient electricity production), provide a steady source of financial return for the communities, the investors, and the government coffers to boot.

In fact though, these communities and investors are doubling down on a losing proposition. Perhaps they would also like to buy some snake oil from me? I promise it will cure all ills, in no time flat, if not sooner.

Alternatively, how about an investment in PIK’s computer predictions?


Mark Levin Lambasts Environmental Movement: 'An Attack on Capitalism Is an Attack on Liberty'

Nationally syndicated radio show host Mark Levin, on his show Tuesday, lambasted the environmental movement as an attack on capitalism, and by proxy, an attack on liberty.

Levin said of the environmental movement, “It is an attack on capitalism, and by the way, an attack on capitalism is an attack on liberty. They’re intertwined.” Levin continued, “You cannot have a truly free society if the people aren’t free, if the people aren’t free to trade and to participate in commerce the way they wish to without certain limits.”

Levin said of the environmental movement:

“This whole global warming thing is a fraud. It’s being advocated by radical leftists, the old communists, through a new generation in Europe that they call the degrowth movement that they have exported to the United States. And it has become a religion, and the arguments become more and more idiotic and extreme, as I pointed out in ‘Liberty and Tyranny’ and I point out in ‘Plunder and Deceit.’

“But let’s make no mistake about it. It is an attack on capitalism, and by the way, an attack on capitalism is an attack on liberty. They’re intertwined. You can’t have a truly free society--and don’t give me Europe--you cannot have a truly free society if the people aren’t free to trade and to participate in commerce the way they wish to without certain limits, with certain limits, obviously, legally and so forth. But redistribution of wealth, or the government’s gonna take this and give it to that or the government’s gonna nationalize something or other. Okay. That’s tyranny.

“But this entire movement, this environmental movement, is a communist red movement. I’m not talking about those with their eyes wide open and idealists in this country who clearly are not. I am talking about the movement, the people behind it, the brains behind it, the people who run it, like the people who advocate this position: Naomi Klein.

“Naomi Klein: ‘Capitalism increasingly is a discredited system because it’s seen as system that venerates greed above all else.’

“Let me stop you there. Aren’t people who demand government benefits greedy? And they don’t earn them, so they’re worse than greedy. They’re stealing. They wanna use the law, politics, and government to steal from somebody else. Are they not greedy, though? Oh, you’re gonna get free health care. Well that’s greedy. You haven’t earned it. You haven’t produced it. What do you mean you’re gonna get free … They’re greedy too. Except, they don’t produce it.

“She says, ‘There’s a benefit to climate discussion to name a system that lots of people already have problems with for other reasons,’ and I read this to you before but it’s worth underscoring. She said, ‘I don’t know why it’s so important to save capitalism. It’s pretty battered brand. This focus on climate is getting us nowhere. Many, many more people recognize the need to change our economy. If climate can be our lens to catalyze this economic transformation that so many people need for other even more pressing reasons then that may be a winning combination. This economic system is failing the vast majority of people.’

“So this red movement is the environmental movement, is the anti-capitalism movement.

“And its attack, you know, a lot of you--particularly younger people--you love these Apple products. Apple wouldn’t exist but for capitalism, but for cutting edge technologies and technological advances. And I’ve read to you before, and I want to underscore this, Ayn Rand, in her book, ‘Return of the Primitive: The Anti-Industrial Revolution,’ that’s how she was defining this growing but nascent environmental movement. ‘Cause it’s not an environmental movement. It’s an anti-america, anti-capitalism, anti-free enterprise, anti-entrepreneur, anti-private property movement.”


In Blow To Environmentalists, Judge Overturns NYC Foam Container Ban

A New York judge overturned a law banning the use of foam containers in New York City Monday, in a blow to environmental efforts being pushed by Mayor Bill de Blasio.

The law went into effect in January, but New York supreme court judge Margaret Chan overturned it on the grounds the material could be recycled in a cost-effective manner, reported The Guardian.

Polystyrene foam containers are used throughout the food industry for commonplace things like egg-cartons and to-go cups. Cities across the country have similar bans on foam containers, including Washington, D.C., Albany and Seattle.

Until Monday, New York was the largest city in America to enforce such a ban.

Chan referred to evidence the city could save $400,000 annually if 40 percent of its wasted plastic foam was not trashed, and with “machinery improvements,” as much as 75 percent of the foam could be recycled. She found 21 companies would buy used containers from the city.

Sanitation department commissioner Katheryn Garcia failed to state “the basis of her conclusions” in favor of the law, given the evidence contrary to her findings “clearly before her,” Chan wrote in her decision.

“These products cause real environmental harm, and we need to be able to prevent nearly 30,000 tons of expanded polystyrene waste from entering our landfills, streets and waterways,” de Blasio’s office said in a statement following the judge’s ruling, according to The Guardian. His office is “reviewing options to keep the ban in place.”


Australian conservatives' warning to new PM: don't touch Direct Action climate policy

West Australian Liberal Dennis Jensen welcomed the assurances of Environment Minister Greg Hunt, who said Australia would not be altering its climate change abatement measures in response to the Chinese development.

But asked if the party's right still had concerns about what Mr Turnbull might do, Dr Jensen said, "absolutely".  "It's one of the conditions of the leadership change that we are sticking with the policy we had," he told Fairfax Media.  "It's also in the [Coalition] agreement with the Nationals, as I understand it.

"We fought a very damaging leadership contest on this very climate policy [in 2009], and we will now need to tread with enormous care, put it that way," he said.

Another conservative, who wished to remain anonymous, said: "Turnbull gave two assurances to people who jumped into his camp: no change to marriage plebiscite and no change to Direct Action.

"But I fear we will now be softened up in the next couple of months leading into Paris talks with the argument that we didn't want to get ahead but now that the world has acted, we need to do more, and if that happens, things could become very interesting for Turnbull."

The warning to the green-inclined new Australian Prime Minister reflects concerns among climate sceptics about Mr Turnbull's longer-term plans for the area.

It came as a slew of policy options in tax, education, and other areas ruled out by the Abbott government were placed back on the table, and as China, the world's biggest polluter, prepared to announce a landmark cap and trade scheme to tackle climate change and the country's appalling air quality.

Mr Xi was also expected to pledge a "significant financial commitment" to help poorer nations move away from fossil fuels in a joint announcement with his US counterpart, Barack Obama.

While Mr Turnbull declined to comment, Mr Hunt was sent out to reassure nervous Liberals that the development out of Beijing would not lead to a similar move from Canberra.

"China's on track to be plus-150 per cent on its emissions from 2005 to 2030. We're on track to be minus-26 to minus-28 per cent, so any form of action by any country is welcome, but for us, we're getting the job done, we're doing it without a carbon tax, we're doing it by lowering electricity prices ... and we're reducing emissions in one of the most effective ways in the world," he told Sky News.

He said Australia was doing its part, and while China's move was positive, it was up to each country to work out what was best for it.

China and the US – the two largest economies and greenhouse gas polluters – are attempting to lead global action on climate change, and use their international clout to pressure other countries, including Australia, to do more.

Under Direct Action, the Australian government is paying companies and farmers to make emissions cuts, while also setting "baselines" for large polluting companies to try to put limits on their emissions.

A national Chinese emissions trading scheme would expand on existing pilot projects in seven Chinese cities already up and running.

The national market would open in 2017 and would cover industries including power generation and iron, steel and cement makers, according to the White House officials who briefed reporters in Washington.

Australia's Direct Action scheme has been criticised by some observers for lacking teeth and not being able to drive enough cuts to meet the country's international targets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 26 to 28 per cent from 2005 levels by 2030.

However, some believe Direct Action could ultimately be turned into a form of emissions trading – called "baseline and credit" – in coming years if there is sufficient political will.

The Coalition government has said it will revisit climate policies in 2017-18 as part of an increasing focus on meeting the 2030 goals. Meanwhile, the Labor opposition has committed to introducing an emissions trading scheme as part of its platform for the next federal election.



For more postings from me, see  DISSECTING LEFTISM, TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC and AUSTRALIAN POLITICS. Home Pages are   here or   here or   here.  Email me (John Ray) here.  

Preserving the graphics:  Most graphics on this site are hotlinked from elsewhere.  But hotlinked graphics sometimes have only a short life -- as little as a week in some cases.  After that they no longer come up.  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 or here


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