Sunday, October 04, 2015

Stored solar power in Spain -- at huge expense

Part of the reason Spain's Greenie schemes sent their government broke -- and caused it to renege on many of their subsidy promises. Just the first stage (there have been 3 stages) of the plant cost around €300 million (US$380 million) to build and it has big maintenance costs as well. Even after the big initial cost it still requires a subsidy to keep it going.  And it uses up vast amounts of water for cooling  -- which is not good in a desert region, where most such plants are located -- JR

On a barren, sun-baked plateau in southern Spain, row upon row of gleaming mirrors form one of the world's biggest solar power plants and harness the sun's power - even after dark.

The Andasol plant near Granada, provides electricity for up to about 500,000 people using about 620,000 curved mirrors.

While it’s not the world’s largest solar farm, it is incredibly powerful, with the mirrors tracking the sun as the Earth turns, to harness as much solar power as possible.

It gets round the main drawback for solar power – that the sun does not always shine – by storing energy to drive turbines after sundown, making it very different to rooftop solar panels, which sunlight directly into electricity.

The main sound at the site, near the town of Guadix, is a whirring of motors to swivel the huge mirrors mounted on giant steel frames, Reuters reported.

The glass alone would cover 0.6 square miles (1.5 square km) which is the size of about 210 football pitches.

The plant, named after the local region of AndalucĂ­a and ‘sol’, meaning sun, can generate around 150 megawatts of electricity, making it among the world's largest.

But in comparison, Ivanpah Solar Power Facility in San Bernadino County, Caifornia, is over twice as large as Andasol in terms of capacity and is able to generate 392 megawatts of electricity.

Like Ivanpah, the Andasol plant uses parabolic troughs, which are a type of solar thermal collector that is straight in one dimension and curved as a parabola in the other two, lined with a polished metal mirror.

Sunlight bounces off the mirrors to heat a synthetic oil in a tube to a blazing 400°C (752°F).

That energy is in turn used to drive a turbine, generating electricity.

At Andasol, some energy also goes into two heat reservoirs, which are tanks containing thousands of tonnes of molten salt that can drive the turbines after sundown, or when it is overcast, for about seven-and-a-half hours.

This process almost doubles the number of operational hours at the solar thermal power plant per year.

There is little sign of life at the semi-desert site of Andasol, which lies at an altitude of 3,600 feet (1,100 metres) near the snow-capped Sierra Nevada range.

Some hardy red and yellow flowers grow around the fringes, a few pigeons flap past and workers say that the odd fox lopes by at night.

The environmental benefits of clean energy are judged to outweigh the scar to the landscape from the mirrors, which are visible from space.

The land is infertile, there is little wildlife and few people live nearby. The biggest regional city, Granada, with about 240,000 people, is 70 km (45 miles) away.


The European wind industry is rattled

 The European Wind Energy Association (EWEA) has joined renewable energy industry groups calling on the European Commission to protect against sudden subsidy cuts. They are asking for a legal instrument to provide investment protection against sudden subsidy cuts.

The commission’s financial department is currently considering setting up an arbitration mechanism for resolving investment disputes at EU-level. This would replace bilateral investment protection treaties struck mainly between EU members and then candidate countries in central and eastern Europe in the 1990s.

An EU arbitration mechanism could be used by the renewables sector to seek compensation for the effects of retroactive subsidy changes. Such changes in several member states have undermined investor confidence and projects’ viability, the industry said in a letter sent to the commission.

According to the letter, renewable energy investment in Europe has almost halved in the past four years, from $120 billion in 2011 to $65 billion in 2014.

In the absence of EU safeguards, renewables investors have to date taken legal action against subsidy changes at national level or through international arbitration, industry associations representing the main renewable energy sources said in a letter to the commission on Tuesday.

There are currently 15 cases pending against Spain’s subsidy cuts under the international Energy Charter Treaty.

The commission is currently in talks with member states about a new climate governance framework to guarantee the achievement of the EU’s 27% renewable energy target by 2030. EU leaders in October agreed that the target should be binding at EU level but not divided into national targets as is the case currently.


Boozy Welsh entertainer blames Syria's brutal four-year civil war on CLIMATE CHANGE

She has uncritically latched on to an old Warmist story.  Her audience thought she was nuts

Singer and left-wing activist Charlotte Church sparked ridicule after blaming the Syrian civil war – on climate change.

The millionaire former child prodigy, appearing on the BBC's Question Time last night, said global warming was 'a big factor' in the brutal conflict between rebel groups, ISIS and Bashar Assad.

Ms Church, who has become a high-profile campaigner against the Government's austerity programme, later took to Twitter to complain about the programme's audience after they responded to her complaint about climate change with silence.

Last night's Question Time was filmed in Ms Church's home town on Cardiff and featured Labour's new MP Stephen Kinnock, Plaid Cymru leader Leanne Wood, Welsh Secretary Stephen Crabb and Margaret Thatcher's biographer Charles Moore.

The panel was asked if British airstrikes on ISIS targets in Syria should be ruled out.

Ms Church said we should ask the Syrian people who their real enemy is.

But she then added: 'Another interesting thing with Syria actually, lots of people don't seem to know about it, is there is evidence to suggest that climate change was a big factor in how the Syrian conflict came about.'

'Another interesting thing with Syria, actually, which a lot of people don't seem to know about this – there is evidence to suggest that climate change was a big factor in how the Syrian conflict came about.

'From 2006 to 2011 they experienced one of the worst droughts in its history, which of course meant there were water shortages and crops weren't growing.

'There was a mass migration from rural areas of Syria into the urban centres, which put more strain and resources were scarce et cetera, which apparently did contribute to the conflict their today.

'No issue is an island you know and we are trying to look at all the different factors in this. We also need to look at what we are doing to the planet and how that might actually cause more conflict in the world.'

She said between 2006 and 2011 the country experienced one of the worst droughts in its history.

Ms Church added: 'This of course meant that there were water shortages and crops weren't growing so there was a mass migration from rural areas of Syria in the urban centres which put more strain and resources were scarce et cetera.'

She said this 'did contribute to the conflict there today'.

The singer added: 'No issue is an island, so I also think we need to look at what we're doing to the planet and how that might actually cause more conflict in the world.'

Her comments were met with complete silence from the audience.

After the show Ms Church admitted her appearance on the long-running programme had been tough.

She said the hostile crowd did not feel like any Welsh crowd she would recognise.


What the EPA Isn’t Telling You About Its New Ozone Standards

Today, the Environment Protection Agency (EPA) tightened up its ozone standard, from 75 parts per billion to 70 parts per billion. Ozone refers to ground-level ozone, a primary component of smog.

The EPA will certainly claim that the final standard will help human health, but here’s what they won’t be telling you:

1. Costs exceed the benefits of reducing ozone.

Reducing ozone actually creates more costs than benefits, even from the EPA’s own analysis. The only way the EPA can show that benefits exceed costs is by taking into account reductions in particulate matter (PM 2.5).

2. EPA’s touted health benefits have little or nothing to do with ozone.

Some of the claimed health benefits have nothing to do with ozone reductions, such as reductions in the number of acute bronchitis cases among children. Other benefits are only partially connected to the reductions in ozone.

3. Making the standards more stringent is premature.

States are just now starting to meet the current 75-parts-per-billion standard. According to the Congressional Research Service, 123 million people live in areas that have not attained the current standard. In fact, 105 million people live in areas that are still considered non-attainment for the less stringent 1997 ozone standard. When nearly 40 percent of the nation’s population lives in areas that have not met the current standard, it is premature to adopt even more stringent standards.

4. The new standards are unnecessary.

This is a classic case of a solution in search of a problem. Since 1980, ozone levels have declined by 33 percent and have continued to get better. Nothing magical would have happened if the standard had been kept at the already stringent 75 ppb. States wouldn’t have had free rein (or the desire) to increase air pollution. States would have been required to meet the current standard and continued to reduce ozone levels.

5. Child asthma rates have gone up as ozone has declined.

While ozone has declined by 33 percent since 1980, child asthma rates have gone up by 131 percent during that same time. While this doesn’t necessarily establish that ozone doesn’t have an impact on asthma, it does raise serious questions that the EPA has failed to address.

6. Impact on wealth will negatively impact health outcomes.

The standard is going to be extremely costly, including lost jobs and income. These wealth effects can themselves hurt the public health. There are many reasons why health outcomes could be far worse when there’s less wealth, from people choosing not to get necessary medical care to the elderly being unable to use air conditioning in hot summer months. The EPA didn’t address this critical issue and how it likely will have a disproportionate impact on the poor

Instead of simply allowing the current standard to get off the ground in terms of implementation, the Obama administration decided to add to the already extensive regulatory burden imposed on the public.

The potential costs of a 70-ppb standard (as opposed to the feared 65-ppb standard) need to be better evaluated, but the costs will be major (and far more than EPA’s estimated $3.9-billion annual cost). Congress needs to intervene and kill this new standard.


EPA Keeps Steamrolling Economy

Two regulatory commissars updates this week courtesy of the Economic Punishment Agency (EPA). First, The Hill reports, “The [EPA] has issued a new rule designed to slash toxic air pollution generated by petroleum refineries. The rule, which will be implemented in 2018, requires refiners to reduce toxic air pollutants by 5,200 tons and cut 50,000 tons of volatile organic compounds from the air every year.” The EPA estimates the rules will cost $63 million annually and insists it “will have a negligible impact on the cost of petroleum products,” but the American Petroleum Institute says the price tag will be closer to $1 billion, and, clearly, the rules will have enormous product-cost implications.

Second, the EPA is set to release new rules for the Clean Air Act’s standard for ozone, a.k.a. smog. “The national standard for ozone was last set in 2008 by the Bush administration at a level of 75 parts per billion,” reports The New York Times. Naturally, ecofascists wanted more stringent regulation. So, the Times notes, “In November, the Obama administration released a draft proposal of an updated ozone regulation, which would lower the current threshold for ozone pollution to 65 to 70 parts per billion. That range is less stringent than the standard of 60 parts per billion sought by environmental groups, but the environmental agency’s proposal also sought public comment on a 60 parts-per-billion plan, keeping open the possibility that the final rule could be stricter.” Such low thresholds require, in some cases, technology that doesn’t exist yet, and it immediately pushes many more areas of the country into violation.

Contrary to the class warfare rhetoric of the Left, it is always the poor who bear a disproportionate share of the burden for such regulations. Energy consumption is a far larger part of the budget for low-income Americans, and these rules continue to force prices upward. But Barack Obama did promise his policies would make electricity prices “necessarily skyrocket.”


The great global warming wealth transfer

Cass Sunstein applies his good legal brain to a dissection of redistribution claims from poor countries.  His conclusion is not encouraging to them

There is unprecedented momentum for a real international agreement at the Paris climate talks in December: the U.S. is on track to make significant cuts in greenhouse-gas emissions, China has announced a cap-and-trade program and many others have made commitments of their own.

The biggest obstacle? Justice — or at least two ideas about justice.

The first involves redistribution. As part of any agreement, poor nations, such as Brazil and India, want wealthier countries to pay them a lot of money, both for scaling back their emissions and for adapting to a warming climate.

Their argument has traction. Wealthy nations have agreed, in principle, to provide $100 billion by 2020 to the United Nations’ Green Climate Fund. Last year, U.S. President Barack Obama pledged to give $3 billion. (Disclosure: my wife, Samantha Power, is the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations.) Recently China announced that it would give another $3.1 billion, and Prime Minister David Cameron said that the U.K. would give $8.8 billion. But both Obama and Cameron face significant opposition from their national legislatures — and in Paris, poor nations seem poised to demand far more, perhaps even trillions.

Are those demands justified? Rich countries have a lot of poor people too, and they face multiple demands on their budgets. Though developed nations can be spectacularly generous, they are likely to resist giving many billions of additional dollars in foreign aid. And if the real goal is to help poor nations, the argument for specific funds to combat climate change seems weaker than the argument for a general cash grant, which poor countries could use however they like (for example, to combat malaria).

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But poor countries have a second and perhaps more compelling idea: corrective justice. In particular, they call for “reparations,” a term used over the weekend by Indian Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar.

Their contention is that rich nations, which created the problem of climate change, have an obligation to fix it, not least by providing compensation for the high costs that, in their view, global warming has already imposed. Their argument adds that rich countries have gotten rich as a result of cheap energy (mostly coal); poor countries should be paid if they are to be deprived of the same opportunity.

That isn’t entirely crazy, but like other arguments for reparations, it runs into serious objections. For one thing, it depends on notions of collective responsibility. Most people in wealthy nations — whether rich or poor, or whether American or British or German — did not intend, and are not personally responsible for, the harms faced by citizens of India. Are they nonetheless obliged to pay reparations?

How, exactly, does he or she owe reparations to people now suffering from warmer climates in India, Vietnam or Bangladesh?
The corrective justice argument also conflates current generations with past generations. Much of the current “stock” of greenhouse gas emissions was produced by the actions of people who are now dead. The median American was born in 1979. How, exactly, does he or she owe reparations to people now suffering from warmer climates in India, Vietnam or Bangladesh?

There is a subtler problem. Through industrial activity, trade and technology, rich countries have conferred big benefits on poor ones, not least in the form of improved health and opportunity. Consider the recent response to the Ebola crisis, life-saving medical innovations or the dissemination of cellphones throughout the world.

A full accounting might require poor countries to pay the rich ones back for those benefits. No one in rich nations is asking for any form of restitution. (And they shouldn’t.) But if we are really interested in measuring who has helping and hurt whom, a claim for reparations puts the issue on the table.

Which acts of which nations are responsible for what kind of harm, exactly?
Some poor countries might respond that they are facing a catastrophic threat against which they cannot easily protect themselves and for which they are not responsible. They might add that even if people in wealthy nations didn’t intend to harm anyone, their own standard of living is a direct product of the coal and oil used to build national economies.

That’s not the worst response. But the causal chains here are difficult to untangle; which acts of which nations are responsible for what kind of harm, exactly? At the very least, the ordinary framework for corrective justice (one person injures another, and so must pay) doesn’t quite apply.

It is possible, of course, to combine arguments from redistribution and corrective justice in support of the conclusion that as part of a climate change agreement, wealthy nations should be prepared to meet their $100 billion pledge, or even to add to it. Because emissions from poor nations (including India) are rapidly growing, and because a worldwide agreement requires broad participation, wealthy nations have their own incentive to sweeten the pot.

Whether or not the moral arguments of poor nations are convincing, there is a cruel irony. If the economic demands of those nations are exorbitant, they will present serious obstacles to an effective agreement — and if such an agreement cannot be reached, the world’s poorest nations will be the world’s biggest losers.



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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