Wednesday, January 13, 2021

Green New Deal ideologies, fantasies and realities

Your life, living standards, country and planet will take a big hit under the Green New Deal

Paul Driessen

Joe Biden, Kamala Harris, AOC, the Democrat Party and US environmentalists are committed to making climate change, the Green New Deal, and replacement of fossil fuels with wind, solar, battery and biofuel power the centerpiece of their foreign and domestic policies.

They claim the transition would be easy, affordable, ecological, sustainable and painless. That’s ideology and fantasy, not reality.

Wind and sunshine are certainly clean and renewable. Harnessing them to power America is not.

The GND would hit American families, jobs, living standards and environmental quality hard. Western states would feel the brunt, because their fossil fuel rents, royalties, jobs and tax receipts would disappear, as drilling, fracking and coal mining on federal lands are closed down. Their open spaces, scenic vistas, wildlife habitats and wildlife would be desecrated by wind turbines, solar panels and transmission lines to serve distant urban voting blocs that dictate energy and land use decisions far beyond city lines.

Coal, oil, natural gas and petroleum liquids still provide 80% of US energy. In 2018, they generated 2.7 billion megawatt-hours (MWh) of electricity – which would have to be replaced under an all-encompassing Green New Deal costing tens of trillions of dollars.

Another 2.7 billion MWh worth of natural gas powered factories, emergency power systems, and furnaces, ovens, stoves and hot water heaters in restaurants, homes and other buildings. Cars, trucks, buses, semi-trailers, tractors and other vehicles consumed the equivalent of yet another 2 billion MWh.

Altogether, that’s 7.4 billion megawatt-hours per year that the GND would have to replace! On top of that we’d need at least another 150 million MWh of wind and solar generating capacity to charge batteries over and over to maintain just one week of nationwide backup power, to avoid blackouts.

The more we try to do so, the more we’d have to put turbines and panels in low quality wind and solar sites, where they’d generate electricity only 15-20% of the year, 80-85% below “nameplate capacity.”

Of course, we could replace all this fossil fuel energy with nuclear power. But radical greens inside and outside the soon-to-be Biden Administration detest and oppose nuclear as much as they do fossil fuels.

That means this transformation to an all-electric nation would require millions of onshore wind turbines, thousands of offshore turbines, billions of solar panels, millions of vehicle battery modules, billions of backup energy storage battery modules, thousands of miles of new transmission lines, millions of charging stations, tens of billions of tons of concrete, steel, copper, plastic, cobalt, rare earth elements and countless other materials – and digging up hundreds of billions of tons of overburden and ores!

If the United States and world could summon the will to mine, process and smelt enough metals and minerals – and manufacture, transport and install all those turbines, panels, batteries and transmission lines – the GND would require the greatest expansion of mining and manufacturing in human history.

But radical greens inside and outside of the Biden Administration detest and oppose US mining and manufacturing almost as much as they despise fossil fuels. That means we would have to go overseas for these essential metals and minerals – primarily to China and Russia, which have them within their boundaries or under their control in various African, Asian and Latin American nations.

They also have no reservation or hesitation about digging them up and processing them – without regard for child, slave or forced labor, workplace safety, air and water pollution, mined land reclamation or any other standards that we insist on in America. And it’s highly unlikely that Team Biden would demand that those countries implement such standards – or that it would refuse to import the metals, minerals and finished “green” technologies unless China, Russia and their foreign subsidiaries abide by our rules and regulations. The entire GND (and much more) would collapse without those unethical raw materials.

Moreover, nearly all this mining, processing and manufacturing would require gasoline, diesel, natural gas and coal in those foreign countries, because those operations cannot be conducted with wind, solar and battery power. The fossil fuel use and emissions would take place outside the United States, but would not go away. Indeed they would likely double or triple. The carbon dioxide emissions would increase global atmospheric levels and, Team Biden insists, worsen climate chaos and extreme weather.

In fact, most wind, solar and battery mining, processing and manufacturing already take place overseas, under few or nonexistent workplace safety, fair wage, child labor and environmental laws. Some 40,000 Congolese children labor alongside their parents, for a couple dollars a day, while exposed constantly to toxic, radioactive mud, dust, water and air, to meet today’s cobalt needs. Imagine the GND toll.

Replacing oil and gas for petrochemicals, pharmaceuticals and plastics would require importing those feed stocks, as well – or planting millions of acres in canola, soybean and other biofuel crops. The water, fertilizer, pesticide, tractor, harvester, processing and transportation requirements would be astronomical.

All that work, and all those industrial facilities, would impact hundreds of millions of acres of scenic areas, food crop lands and wildlife habitats. Raptors, other birds, bats, and forest, grassland and desert dwellers would suffer substantial losses or be driven into extinction.

Most of those impacts would also occur in Midwestern and Western America, far from the voting centers and suspicious voting patterns that put Team Biden in office. But as they say, out of sight, out of mind – in someone else’s backyards.

The GND would also mean ripping out perfectly good natural gas appliances, replacing them with electric models, installing rapid charging systems for vehicles, and upgrading household, neighborhood and national electrical systems to handle the extra loads – costing more trillions of dollars.

Families, factories, hospitals, schools and businesses accustomed to paying 7-11¢ per kilowatt-hour for electricity would pay 14-22¢ per kWh, as they already do in “green” US states – or even the 35¢ that families now pay in Germany. Once they use more than some arbitrary “maximum baseline” amount of electricity per month, they will pay closer to 45¢ per kWh, as families already do in California.

How companies will survive, how many jobs will disappear, how many families will join the ranks of those who must choose between heating and eating – is anyone’s guess.

GND technologies are nearly 100% dependent on metals and minerals from China, Russia, Ukraine, and Chinese companies in Africa and Latin America. Emails from Hunter Biden’s laptop underscore concerns that America’s foreign, defense and domestic policies would be held hostage, while certain well-connected politicians, families and wind, solar, battery and biofuel companies get rich.

All these issues require open, robust debate – which too many schools and universities, news and social media outlets, corporate and political leaders, and Antifa thugs and arsonists continue to censor and cancel. That censorship and silencing must end before any votes or other actions are taken on any Green New Deal. Unfortunately, the opposite is happening.

Big Media and Big Tech are conspiring with Democrats, Greens and other authoritarian elements to shut down any and all discussion by anyone who does not support their agendas. Others are moving to persecute and prosecute President Trump and anyone associated with his administration and policies.

As anger and frustration build among the increasingly disenfranchised, America and the world could be heading into a frightening future indeed.

Via email

Biden’s Climate Appointments and the Potential Disruption to the Global Fossil Fuel Market

With President-elect Joe Biden about to assume office, he will soon roll out his “clean energy” plan, aimed at reducing America’s dependence on fossil fuels.

But such a move will cause ripples beyond America’s borders. It will likely impact key developing countries that have become increasingly reliant on fossil fuel imports from the booming U.S. oil and gas industry.

Biden’s Clean Energy Plan

In December 2020, Joe Biden appointed his climate team, which included a person who served under the Obama administration.

Among the list of climate nominees and appointees is Gina McCarthy, who spearheaded the Obama administration’s Clean Power Plan, which mandated emission reduction in America’s power plants and set in motion the country’s alignment with the Paris Climate Agreement.

According to Biden’s official page, McCarthy will now serve as the first-ever National Climate Advisor at the newly envisioned White House Office of Domestic Climate Policy.

McCarthy currently serves as president and CEO of the Natural Resources Defense Council, an environmental lobbying group that is actively seeking to reduce methane emission from the oil and gas industry and limit the emission of carbon dioxide from power plants. Her appointment is a clear signal as to the direction the Biden administration is headed when it comes to the oil and gas sector.

Though Biden has not fully embraced the more radical calls for emission reductions—like the Green New Deal—his clean energy plan will still cause a disruption in the fossil fuel industry, including the booming natural gas industry.

Risking US Energy Security and Ripples Beyond Borders

The disruptions could threaten America’s energy independence. The country’s emergence as the undisputed energy powerhouse during the last decade can be credited solely to the booming oil and gas industry.

And it's not only other nations that will be affected. Importers of U.S. oil and gas also benefited from fossil-friendly policy.

To the extent that Biden’s anti-fossil fuel stance prevails in actual policy, it will diminish domestic production and so reduce or eliminate America’s energy surplus and energy independence.

Despite his anti-fossil stance, Barack Obama actually aided the development of the U.S. natural gas industry. The Trump administration furthered the policy. Since 2005, the U.S import of fossil fuels has fallen dramatically.

The U.S. is the world’s biggest producer of oil (19.47 million barrels per day in 2019, which accounted for nearly a fifth of the global production). It has held the top spot for the past six years. In 2019, after 70 years as a net importer, the U.S. became a net exporter of petroleum.

Developing countries like India, where the fossil fuel demand is extremely high and 80 percent of oil consumption is met through imports, saw a significant increase in import of natural gas and oil from the U.S. In fact, India began reducing its imports from its traditional trade partners like Iran and preferred imports from the U.S. Over in the Americas, Mexico, Canada, and Colombia rely heavily on U.S. oil supply.

But all these are likely to change if Biden implements his Clean Energy Plans. If oil and gas production are disrupted, the U.S. will cease to be a net exporter and will likely increase its oil imports from the Middle East, Canada, and Mexico. Countries like India will then have to increase their dependency on oil from volatile markets like Iran, threatening global security that U.S. oil and gas supremacy would otherwise have ensured.

If Biden walks the talk on his promise to reduce domestic fossil fuel production, the U.S. will lose its energy independence, and developing countries like India and Mexico will lose reliable oil and gas supply from a free market economy like the United States.

The Folly of Renewable Energy

The West needs to go nuclear

If you judge by the images used to illustrate reports about energy, the world now runs mainly on wind and solar power. It comes as a shock to look up the numbers. In 2019 wind and solar between them supplied just 1.5 percent of the world’s energy consumption. Hydro supplied 2.6 percent, nuclear 1.7 percent, and all the rest — 94 percent — came from burning things: coal, oil, gas, wood, and biofuels.

As Mark Twain might say, reports of an energy transition away from combustion as a source of energy are greatly exaggerated. True, carbon-dioxide emissions are rising more slowly than energy consumption, but that is mainly because gas is displacing coal. The rise of renewables has so far not even compensated for the recent decline of nuclear — a decline renewables have contributed to causing because intermittent renewable energy hits the profitability of nuclear power hardest. Nuclear cannot be easily switched on and off.

So the thermodynamic explanation of the world economy remains the same as it has since the industrial revolution liberated us from reliance mainly on the (renewable) muscles of people, horses, and oxen or the vagaries of (renewable) trade winds. We use the heat of flames to do useful things, such as move stuff around, light and heat our homes, manufacture goods, grow crops with tractors, power the Internet.

The main change in recent years has been that energy is increasingly centrally planned. Instead of a market deciding between fuels, the government picks favorites to subsidize, and then subsidizes the old ones, too, when it finds it has poisoned the market against them. Throughout the Western world energy markets are coerced. The development pipeline, corporate rhetoric, and fuel-market shares are all determined by policy.

This has some perverse consequences. Lobbied by firms such as General Electric, Sylvania, and Philips, governments all over the world forced consumers to give up incandescent light bulbs in favor of expensive compact fluorescent bulbs, ostensibly to save energy. All this achieved was a delay in the voluntary replacement of both by a much more efficient, safe, and reliable form of lighting: LEDs.

The world needs energy innovation if it is to reduce the use of fossil fuels, as almost every politician now demands. But things such as electric cars merely displace the flame from engine to power station. Whether that reduces emissions at all depends on how much of the electricity comes from coal, gas or other sources, on how much energy is used to make the battery, and how long the battery lasts. Under even the most optimistic assumptions, the emissions reductions are small. And although the efficiency of energy consumption is improving, it cannot solve the problem. First, many people in developing countries are still without electricity or transport fuel. Energy demand will increase as their incomes grow. Second, as the economist William Stanley Jevons pointed out in 1865, if you make coal (or light or flight) cheaper, people use more of it. Efficiency gains increase demand.

It is in the generation, not the consumption, of energy that innovation is needed. Here there is another obstacle. History shows that you cannot demand a particular innovation and expect it to turn up, however generous the incentives you offer. If you could, then the supersonic planes, routine space travel, and personal jetpacks we were promised in the 1950s would have long since arrived. Instead we have been using 747s for 50 years: We ran out of big innovations in transport.

For almost as long we have been asking inventors to find a way of generating cheap, reliable, and safe energy without producing carbon-dioxide. Frankly, it is now clear that renewables cannot do it. They tap low-density energy sources, so they need a lot of space. No amount of innovation will alter that constraint. There are not enough rivers to dam, tidal basins to barrage, or hills to festoon with wind turbines, at least not without destroying too much nature. It takes 150 tons of coal to make a wind turbine, and two tons of rare-earth metals. (Governments and market hucksters insist that wind energy is now cheap. Audited accounts of the firms that build wind farms reveal that this is untrue.)

There is enough desert space for the solar panels we would need — in the Sahara mainly — but the cost of getting it to where the energy is used, and storing it for use during the night or turning it into jet fuel, remains astronomical, however fast the cost of solar panels themselves falls. As for waves, or ground-source heat pumps, or geo­thermal energy, they remain niche opportunities with little prospect of denting demand for oil and gas.

Nuclear power could supply all our needs from a comparatively tiny footprint of land and steel, but we have made innovation in nuclear all but impossible by massively increasing the cost and time required to license a new design. So we stick with an old and inefficient design that uses water coolant and solid fuel, while distorted energy markets leave the nuclear industry begging for subsidies equivalent to those received by the renewables industry. Molten-salt reactors will one day be more efficient, safer, and cheaper, but only if there is a revolution in regulation as much as one in technology. Keep your eye on Canada, which is trying to achieve this.

Fusion energy is another innovation we promised but failed to deliver. In theory a small quantity of heavy water (containing deuterium) and lithium (to make tritium) could power a town, if the atoms could be induced to fuse. It works in H-bombs. But doing this in a controlled way has proved elusive for half a century. There is renewed hope, however, that low-temperature superconductors and “spherical tokamak” designs may yet crack the problem of controlled fusion and that by 2040 we will have abundant, cheap, reliable energy on tap.

If that were to happen, through molten-salt fission or through fusion, imagine what we could do. We could synthesize fuel for transport, dismantle wind turbines and oil pipelines, stop burning trees in power stations, desalinate enough water to supply the human race without touching wild rivers, and suck carbon-dioxide out of the air. Above all, we could raise the standard of living of the poorest on the planet. It is surely worth a try.

Meanwhile, here is a worrying trend. Energy consumption in the West is stalling and in some sectors, such as electricity, falling sharply. No one really believes that efficiency accounts for all of that. What is going on?

In effect, the West has outsourced its energy consumption to China. Xi Jinping’s announcement in September that China will be carbon-neutral by 2060 was merely a cheap headline-grabber. In the same speech he announced that China’s emissions will rise until 2030 and, implicitly, remain high for quite some time thereafter. It’s 30 years from 2030 to 2060. That was news.

China will hoover up and employ as much of the world’s fossil fuels as possible in the next few decades. Na├»ve divestment campaigns will simply play into Chinese hands. If Harvard sells its fossil investments, someone will buy them. Who?

With the wealth created from cheap coal, oil, and gas, China will then head for nuclear. Along with Russia, China has been involved in two-thirds of global nuclear development in the last 20 years. The future of energy thus depends on whether the West wakes up to the need to do the same or persists in its renewables folly until it is too late to change course.

China loves coal far more than wind

We have all heard about China building a lot of coal plants, but the central role coal plays in their booming economy is amazing. It is a big reason they are the world’s leading manufacturer. China generates almost twice as much electricity as the U.S. they generate more from cheap coal than we do from all sources. This makes them very competitive industrially.

China has some wind power but they are smart enough not to let it get in their way (unlike us). Renewables are driving our power costs through the roof, while China wisely wallows in cheap juice.

By way of scale, not too long ago the U.S. burned about a billion tons of coal a year to make electricity. We generated about 2,000 gigawatt hours (GWh) of electricity from coal, roughly half of our total 4,000 GWh. The foolish war on coal has reduced that to around 600 million tons, with further reductions scheduled.

By a strange coincidence, just the time when coal use switched from growing to shrinking, about 12 years ago, America’s use of electric power also stopped growing. It has remained at about 4,000 GWh ever since. Perhaps new energy intensive industrial developments were all switched from America to China in anticipation of the US juice price increases that followed.

China on the other hand now generates a whopping 7,500 GWh of electricity, or just under twice what America does. That’s right, they produce almost twice as much power as we do.

Even worse, less than 25% of our electricity goes for industrial uses, while a reported 70% of China’s juice use is industrial. That is roughly 1,000 GWh in America versus 5,000 in China, or five times as much industrial use of electricity. Small wonder that China makes most of the products we use (and pay them for).

Moreover, most of China’s vast power generation is from coal. Of their 7,500 GWh just about 5,000 GWh, or fully two thirds, is powered by cheap coal. By coincidence they equals their entire industrial use. Or maybe it is not a coincidence; it may be how they remain so competitive in the global economy.

In any case China is generating more electricity with coal than America is from all sources combined. That is a lot of coal juice. China’s booming economy basically runs on coal.

When it comes to wind power the story is very different. China does have some, in fact they produce about 400 GWH from wind, or around 5% of the total. This may be just a token amount, although it is growing, as are all forms of power generation.

What is most interesting is the reported “capacity factor” for wind power. The capacity factor (CF) is the ratio of how much power is produced in a year to how much could be produced if the generators ran full power all the time. The latter is called nameplate capacity, so CF equals power produced divided by nameplate, expressed as a percentage.

Because wind is intermittent its CF is pretty low, typically 30 to 35% in the U.S. But China reports a wind CF of less than 20%! The reason is an important part of China’s economic success. Unlike us, they wisely do not curtail coal fired power production just to make room for wind power, when the wind happens to be blowing.

So China uses the wind power if they need it, but not otherwise. We on the other hand actually throttle back our coal and gas fired power plants, when wind power is there, which is really stupid.

China is generating almost twice as much electricity as America and two thirds of that juice is coming from coal. Wind is a token generator at 5% and is not allowed to interfere with coal power. Anyone who thinks China is going to phase out coal for wind is simply green dreaming. Coal is central to China’s power.




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