Sunday, April 24, 2016

"Renewables" are alone enough?

The bright-eyed Warmist guy below -- Mark Diesendorf  -- is triumphant in thinking that he has shown that there is no need for hydrocarbon-fuelled baseload power stations. What he  argues below (in summary) has some logic in that although renewable power sources have very uneven availability by themselves, a whole network of renewable sources is more reliable. So if everything is interconnected, you might be able to get power from solar cells when the wind isn't blowing and vice versa.  Because it does happen that all renewable sources are not always  available in the quantities demanded, he does however concede that reliance on other sources -- such as gas turbines -- would sometimes be required.

Clearly, however, such a system would require a lot of very tricky management and good luck for there always be some power source available.  And lot more transmission lines -- which are both costly and eyesores -- would be required to get the geographical spead needed to overcome the localism of things like clouds and wind.  The wind can be blowing in one place and not in another place nearby, for instance.  So to have a useful spread of inputs you would need generators scattered far and wide -- and all sorts of new and expensive transmission lines from them to a central core or elsewhere. And the NIMBYs would block you at every step along the way when you try to build those transmission lines.

And the backup gas-powered generators needed to fill in when nature is unobliging would have to be very powerful.  On those occasions at night when the wind isn't blowing, the gas generators would have to be capable of assuming the whole load.  So in the end you still end up with huge hydrocarbon-powered generators.  So where is the benefit?  A benefit to Warmist ideology only, it seems. You would still have to double up your power generating capacity.

And "renewable" power sources require much larger capital investment per megawatt so you are looking at spending something like three times what you need to in order to get an acceptable electricity service.  But money seems to grow on trees in the Greenie imagination so I suppose they dismiss that with a wave of their hands

I suppose I should briefly mention the main two other sources of "renewable" power -- solar furnaces and hydro-electricity.

Solar furnaces are easy. They do not remotely live up to their promises and the two big ones -- Ivanpah in California and Abengoa in Spain -- have just been hit by huge cost over-runs. Obama may bail out Ivanpah but it would just be pouring money down a hole if he did. Its running costs far exceed what it can get for its power. And the Spanish government will probably just have to switch their installation off -- if they have not done so already.

And building new hydroelectric installations is a laugh.  They all require big DAMS -- and, in their strange superstitious way, there is nothing a Greenie hates more than a dam.

So I think we have to conclude that Mr Diesendorf is up the creek in a barbed-wire canoe without a paddle -- as Barry Humphries puts it

The assumption that baseload power stations are necessary to provide a reliable supply of grid electricity has been disproven by both practical experience in electricity grids with high contributions from renewable energy, and by hourly computer simulations.

In 2014 the state of South Australia had 39% of annual electricity consumption from renewable energy (33% wind + 6% solar) and, as a result, the state’s base-load coal-fired power stations are being shut down as redundant. For several periods the whole state system has operated reliably on a combination of renewables and gas with only small imports from the neighbouring state of Victoria.

The north German states of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern and Schleswig-Holstein are already operating on 100% net renewable energy, mostly wind. The ‘net’ indicates trading with each other and their neighbours. They do not rely on baseload power stations.

A host of studies agree: baseload power stations are not needed

“That’s cheating”, nuclear proponents may reply. “They are relying on power imported by transmission lines from baseload power stations elsewhere.” Well, actually the imports from baseload power stations are small.

For countries that are completely isolated (e.g. Australia) or almost isolated (e.g. the USA) from their neighbours, hourly computer simulations of the operation of the electricity supply-demand system, based on commercially available renewable energy sources scaled up to 80-100% annual contributions, confirm the practical experience.

In the USA a major computer simulation by a large team of scientists and engineers found that 80-90% renewable electricity is technically feasible and reliable (They didn’t examine 100%.) The 2012 report, Renewable Electricity Futures Study. Vol.1. Technical report TP-6A20-A52409-1 was published by the US National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL). The simulation balances supply and demand each hour.

The report finds that “renewable electricity generation from technologies that are commercially available today, in combination with a more flexible electric system, is more than adequate to supply 80% of total U.S. electricity generation in 2050 while meeting electricity demand on an hourly basis in every region of the United States.”

Similar results have been obtained from hourly simulation modeling of the Australian National Electricity Market with 100% renewable energy (published by Ben Elliston, Iain MacGill and I in 2013 and 2014) based on commercially available technologies and real data on electricity demand, wind and solar energy. There are no baseload power stations in the Australian model and only a relatively small amount of storage. Recent simulations, which have yet to be published, span eight years of hourly data.

These, together with studies from Europe, find that baseload power stations are unnecessary to meet standard reliability criteria for the whole supply-demand system, such as loss-of-load probability or annual energy shortfall.

Furthermore, they find that reliability can be maintained even when variable renewable energy sources, wind and solar PV, provide major contributions to annual electricity generation, up to 70% in Australia. How is this possible?

Fluctuations balanced by flexible power stations

First, the fluctuations in variable wind and solar PV are balanced by flexible renewable energy sources that are dispatchable, i.e. can supply power on demand. These are hydro with dams, Open Cycle Gas Turbines (OCGTs) and concentrated solar thermal power (CST) with thermal storage, as illustrated in

Incidentally the gas turbines can themselves be fuelled by ‘green gas’, for example from composting municipal and agricultural wastes, or produced from surpluses of renewable electricity. More on this below …

Second, drawing on diverse renewable energy sources, with different statistical properties, provides reliability. This means relying on multiple technologies and spreading out wind and solar PV farms geographically to reduce fluctuations in their total output. This further reduces the already small contribution from gas turbines to just a few percent of annual electricity generation.

Third, new transmission lines may be needed to achieve wide geographic distribution of renewable energy sources, and to multiply the diversity of renewable energy sources feeding into the grid. For example, an important proposed link is between the high wind regions in north Germany and the low wind, limited solar regions in south Germany. Texas, with its huge wind resource, needs greater connectivity with its neighbouring US states.

Fourth, introducing ‘smart demand management’ to shave the peaks in electricity demand and to manage periods of low electricity supply, can further increase reliability. This can be assisted with smart meters and switches controlled by both electricity suppliers and consumers, and programmed by consumers to switch off certain circuits (e.g. air conditioning, water heating, aluminium smelting) for short periods when demand on the grid is high and/or supply is low.

As summarized by the NREL study: “RE (Renewable Energy) Futures finds that increased electricity system flexibility, needed to enable electricity supply-demand balance with high levels of renewable generation, can come from a portfolio of supply- and demand-side options, including flexible conventional generation, grid storage, new transmission, more responsive loads, and changes in power system operations.”

A recent study by Mark Jacobson and colleagues went well beyond the above studies. It showed that all energy use in the USA, including transport and heat, could be supplied by renewable electricity. The computer simulation used synthetic data on electricity demand, wind and sunshine taken every 30 seconds over a period of six years.

Storage or ‘windgas’ could also manage fluctuations

The above ‘flexible’ approach may not be economically optimal for the UK and other countries with excellent wind resource but limited solar resource. Another solution to managing fluctuations in wind and solar is more storage, e.g. as batteries or pumped hydro or compressed air.

A further alternative is the ‘windgas’ scenario recently advocated by Energy Brainpool as a greener and lower cost alternative to the UK’s Hinkley C nuclear project. The idea is to use excess wind energy to produce hydrogen gas by electrolysing water and then convert the hydrogen to methane that fuels combined cycle gas turbine (CCGT) power stations.

In fact, not all the hydrogen needs to be converted into methane, and it’s more efficient to keep some of it as hydrogen, a useful fuel in its own right. Another option is to use the hydrogen to make ammonia (NH3) which can both be used as a fuel, and as a feedstock for the fertiliser industry, displacing coal or natural gas.

In Brainpool’s scenario, the system is used to replicate the power output of the 3.2GW Hinkley C nuclear power station, and shows it can be done at a lower cost. But in fact, it gets much better than that:

    as each wind turbine, CCGT, gas storage unit and ‘power to gas’ facility is completed, its contribution begins immediately, with no need for the whole system to be built out;

    the system would in practice be used to provide, not baseload power, but flexible power to meet actual demand, and so would be much more valuable;

    as solar power gets cheaper, it will integrate with the system and further increase resilience and reduce cost;

    the whole system creates grid stability and cannot drop out all at once like a nuclear plant, producing negative ‘integration costs’.

But in all the flexible, renewables-based approaches set out above, conventional baseload power stations are unnecessary. In the words of former Australian Greens’ Senator Christine Milne: “We are now in the midst of a fight between the past and the future”.

The refutation of the baseload fairy tale and other myths falsely denigrating renewable energy are a key part of that struggle.

SOURCE cites Bill Nye’s fake degrees to prove he’s a scientist

Because there are no other more important issues to fact check, the folks over at decided to investigate Sarah Palin’s claim that she’s “as much a scientist” as the star of the children’s television show, “Bill Nye the Science Guy.”

Of course they found in Nye’s favor:

But check this out. To help prove that Nye is a real scientist, they cited his honorary degrees. You know, degrees that are actually awards and not really degrees at all:

Nye has a B.S. in mechanical engineering from Cornell. He also has six honorary doctorate degrees, including Ph.D.s in science from Goucher College and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.

Sorry, guys, but that’s not how it works. Why not cite any of Nye’s numerous peer-reviewed papers instead?

Oh, that’s right … because he has none. From The Federalist:

It does not appear that Nye has published a single paper in a peer-reviewed journal of any kind; his chief scientific exploits of the past 20 years or so appear to be tinkering with sundials and making public speaking appearances to talk about how great science is.

His most recent high-profile contribution to “science” was to publicly debate a creationist over whether the Earth is 6,000 years old—a functionally useless endeavor, though I’m sure it made for a great Twitter hashtag.

Bill Nye: STILL not a scientist.


Earth Day — Signing the Paris Climate Agreement

(Originally posted Apr. 22, 2016)

For this year’s rendition of Earth Day, the stakes couldn’t be higher. More than 130 nations will gather to formally sign the Paris Climate Agreement at the United Nations in New York. Nothing could better signify Earth Day than a global gaggle of government leaders burning fossil fuels on their way to forcing us to spend a lot of green to preserve a little green, all while expanding their control over our lives.

While Congress has not ratified the agreement — nor are there any plans to — the Obama administration argues that its own assent is all that is necessary. Once 55 or more nations that represent 55% of global greenhouse gas emissions sign, the Paris accord can become effective as early as November 2017. The United States and China, which has also pledged to sign, together make up 38% of emissions. Meanwhile, a number of smaller nations are willing to sign in the hope of becoming beneficiaries of the inevitable wealth transfer the UN is sure to facilitate.

We’ve talked about the racket known as Earth Day many times on these pages, but climate alarmists are now shrieking that 2016 will be the warmest year on record, and that we have to DO SOMETHING before the global average temperature rises more than two degrees Celsius from pre-industrial values. “We are at a critical juncture when it comes to preserving our climate,” warned Michael Mann, the “climate researcher” who’s best known for the discredited “hockey stick” graph of global temperatures over the centuries, and for his omission of relevant data that failed to support his theory.

Unfortunately, no one has conclusively proven that our current climate is the optimal or “normal” one, either. Did you know, for example, as “skeptical environmentalist” Bjorn Lomborg points out, that about 0.5% of all deaths are heat-related, while more than 7% are cold-related?

It’s worth noting too that climate alarmists aren’t the only ones predicting a record warm year. Climate “deniers” like meteorologist Joe Bastardi have been forecasting higher temperatures this year because of weather patterns.

Despite all that, Barack Obama is plunging head-first into the Paris agreement as a continuation of his quest to wipe out the coal industry through power plant regulations and keeping other abundant energy sources off limits.

Yet not only is there a cost in jobs lost in the energy sector, but also a real increase in what’s known as “green energy poverty,” an economic condition where families spend more than 10% of their income on heating and other domestic energy costs. While the relatively low price of natural gas helps keep heating costs down, government subsidies and outright mandates for “renewable energy,” such as wind and solar power, bend the cost curve upward — sort of like a hockey stick.

Yet a change in administration, such as one to Ted Cruz, or, to a lesser extent, Donald Trump, will provide little relief from the Paris provisions. Buried in the Paris Climate Agreement is language preventing any nation from withdrawing within the first three years after it takes effect, with a further cooling-off period of one year. In essence, given a possible effective date of November 2017, the next president is stuck with this agreement. One silver lining is that there is little in the way of strict enforcement, as that would make the agreement a treaty requiring Senate ratification, something Obama scrupulously sought to avoid.

So let’s recap: Today we celebrate a completely fabricated holiday (which, no small irony, occurs on the anniversary of Vladimir Lenin’s birth) by signing an agreement of dubious legality and limited enforcement mechanisms in order for do-gooders to try to solve a problem that mankind has little, if anything, to do with. Sounds like a perfect example of liberalism to us. (Read more about the Left’s “Real ‘Climate Change’ Agenda.”)


Obama’s Attack on Oil and Gas

How do you cap an oil gusher? If you were a wildcatter in East Texas during the 1930s, you would fashion a rig using any manner of tools available to contain the gooey liquid until you could profitably deliver it to energy-thirsty consumers. If you were President Obama, however, you might focus on one particular method: plugging up the wild well with the latest edition of the Federal Code of Regulation and hope that consumers didn’t notice at the gas pump. According to Independent Institute Senior Fellow William F. Shughart II, this is pretty much what the White House has done by enacting regulations that erode the benefits consumers would otherwise derive from the recent energy boom.

“The administration has zeroed in on the [oil and gas] industry with new rules on hydraulic fracturing, natural gas flaring, and methane emissions, to name but a few,” Shughart writes in American Thinker. Toss in the president’s nixing of the Keystone XL pipeline and moratorium on energy exploration in the Arctic and Atlantic coastal waters, and you have ample evidence that President Obama dislikes fossil fuels so much that he’s willing to inflict significant harm on the industry. Now the president is proposing to raise taxes on crude oil by $10 per barrel—a move that would push up gas prices about 24 cents per gallon, according to one industry analyst.

The administration sees the tax hike as an opportunity—to bolster his environmental street cred and to fund resource-wasting mass transit projects and subsidies to R&D on self-driving cars—as if Google, Ford and the other corporate behemoths currently pursuing that technology need the money. Doubtless his proposed tax hike will please special interests but not the economy as a whole. “Cronyism, whether to benefit renewables or fossil fuels, is a serious problem,” Shughart continues. “Robust economic growth will return if and only if Washington gets out of the way.”


Top 5 Reasons Congress Should Reject Obama’s Climate Change Treaty

Secretary of State John Kerry will join leaders from around the world to sign the Paris Protocol global warming agreement this Friday at the United Nations headquarters.

Here are the top five reasons Congress and the next administration should withdraw from the accord:

1) Higher energy bills, fewer jobs and a weaker economy.

The economic impact of domestic regulations associated with the Paris agreement will be severe. To meet America’s commitment to reduce carbon dioxide emissions, the administration will need to drive the cost of conventional fuels higher so households and businesses use less.

Because energy is a necessary input for almost all goods consumers buy, households are hit by higher prices multiple times over. Global warming regulations will increase electricity expenditures for a family of four by at least 13 percent a year. Cumulatively, they will cost American families over $20,000 of lost income by 2035 and impose a $2.5 trillion hit on the economy.

2) No impact on climate.

Regardless of one’s opinions on the degree to which climate change is occurring, regulations associated with the Paris accord will have no meaningful impact on the planet’s temperature.

Even if the government closed the doors to every businesses and CO2-emitting activity in the U.S., there would be less than two-tenths of a degree Celsius reduction in global temperatures.

Even Kerry admitted during the negotiations last December that:

If all the industrial nations went down to zero emissions— remember what I just said, all the industrial emissions went down to zero emissions— it wouldn’t’t be enough, not when more than 65 percent of the world’s carbon pollution comes from the developing world.

Though the Paris Protocol is an international agreement, there is little reason to believe that the developing world (India, China, etc.) will prioritize reducing cargo dioxide emissions over using affordable energy that provides their citizens with a better standard of living.

Yes, China and other developing countries have serious air and water quality problems from industrial byproducts. But do not associate those problems with carbon dioxide. Carbon dioxide is a colorless, odorless and non-toxic. The focus of the Paris Protocol is to address catastrophic global warming. The developing world has more pressing tangible environmental challenges, which they’ll be able to address when they’re wealthier and have the necessary means to tackle them.

3) Massive taxpayer-funded wealth transfer for green initiatives.

An important part of the Paris agreement for the developing world is money. More specifically, other peoples’ money. In Nov. 2014, President Barack Obama also pledged to commit $3 billion to the Green Climate Fund, an international fund for green projects in the developing world.

The administration and proponents of a Green Climate Fund have repeatedly called for spending $100 billion per year between the United States and other countries in public and private financing to combat climate change.

In March, the Obama administration made a $500 million taxpayer-funded payment to the Green Climate Fund despite Congress never having authorized the funding.

The Green Climate Fund is nothing more than a taxpayer-funded wealth transfer from developed countries to developing ones. The fund will do little to promote economic growth in these countries but instead connect politically-connected companies with taxpayer dollars.

4) Avoids review and consent from elected officials.

The Paris agreement is in form, in substance, and in the nature of its commitments a treaty and should be submitted to the Senate for review and consent. The executive branch has shown contempt for the U.S. treaty-making process and the role of Congress, particularly the Senate.

As my colleague Steven Groves writes and explains in great detail, “The argument that the U.S. Nationally Determined Contribution “targets and timetables” are not legally binding and therefore the Paris Agreement is not a “treaty” requiring the advice and consent of the Senate simply has no basis in law.”

5) A top-down, government controlled push for economic transformation.

To achieve their global warming goals, international leaders want to control an economic transformation. Christiana Figueres, executive secretary of United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change has said that:

This is the first time in the history of mankind that we are setting ourselves the task of intentionally, within a defined period of time to change the economic development model that has been reigning for at least 150 years, since the industrial revolution.

A top-down, concentrated effort to shift away from the use of coal, oil and natural gas will prevent millions from enjoying the basic energy needs Americans and the developed world takes for granted. In the industrialized world, the effects of moving away from conventional fuels have been devastating at times. Fuel poverty and pricier energy caused tens of thousands of deaths in Great Britain because families could not heat their homes. The world runs on traditional fuels because they are cost competitive and abundant. If and when any transformative shift away from these natural resources occurs, it will be driven by the market.

The Paris agreement, and U.S. participation in the entire framework convention on climate change is a raw deal for Americans. The next administration should not only withdraw from Paris but the entire United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.


Australian scientists write open letter demanding action on Great Barrier Reef as 93 per cent of the reef has been affected by coral bleaching due to climate change

But what CAN the government do if it's due to climate change?  They want the government to stop all coal usage but that would do nothing for the reef.  The proportion of CO2 added to the atmosphere by the burning of coal in Australia is minuscule.  The whole thing is just a cynical and dishonest attempt to push their usual barrows by exploiting something that is almost certainly due to the El Nino weather oscillation and not to "climate change"
Dozens of Australian scientists have penned a letter to express major concern for the Great Barrier Reef, which is currently undergoing its worst coral bleaching in history.

The letter signed by 56 scientists urged the government to make phasing out fossil fuels and coal a major priority to save the reef.

'We are now seeing first hand the damage that climate change causes, and we have a duty of care to speak out,' the open letter stated.

'Australia must rapidly phase-out our existing ageing and inefficient coal-fired power stations.

'In addition, there can be no new coal mines. No new coal-fired power stations. The transition to a renewables-led energy system, already underway, must be greatly accelerated.'

The letter, published in The Courier-Mail as an advert, cost the $14,000 to publish and was funded by a the Climate Council successfully raised money from 250 sponsors.

A report by noted the letter was published in the same week it was revealed 93 per cent of the world's largest reef was affected by coral bleaching, the worst case in recorded history.

Organisations are demanding further action from the federal government, with WWF Australia pushing for 100 per cent renewable electricity by 2035 and net zero carbon pollution before 2050, according to the report.



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