Sunday, August 06, 2017

Big money is behind decarbonization. We don’t need politicians (?)

An amusing article below from a Warmist intellectual in a desperate attempt to defend his patch. Jeffrey D. Sachs is University Professor and director of the Center for Sustainable Development at Columbia University.  His argument is that since some companies are ass-covering in case "renewables" take off, that means that a new age is dawning and the old one will wither away.

He is taking comfort in small things where 97% of the world is paying only lip service to global warming.  The Paris agreement gives him a horn even though NOBODY actually seems to be doing anything about it. He ignores things like the burgeoning American  coal exports to Europe and all the coal-fired generators being built in "Green" Germany. As usual with Leftists you have to know what he leaves out.

He may for instance be right in saying that the Trans Canada pipeline may not be completed because it product will be too expensive but he slides over the reason why:  The cornucopia of inexpensive oil and gas produced by fracking.  It's SUCCESS of the evil fossil fuels that is at work, not their obsolescence.

And one has to chuckle at his naivety when he says that scientists "aim for truth rather than for power or wealth". In fairy tales, maybe. It would be more realistic to say that scientists aim primarily for promotion and research grants.  He obviously is unaware of the recent large literature on unreplicable research results.

And most amusing of all is his apparent belief that banks always get it right. Did 2008 tell him nothing?

His little essay is rather a pathetic and very premature declaration that his battle has been won.  One can admire his confidence but it is a desperate confidence built on sand

The world is moving to a low-carbon energy system built on wind, hydro, solar, and other zero-carbon sources and the electrification of transport, heating, and industry. Thirty years from now, today’s American fossil fuel giants — ExxonMobil, Chevron, TransCanada, Koch Industries, among others — will be shadows of today. Coal companies such as Peabody will be found only in the history books. President Trump’s attempts to protect the fossil fuel interests will have no success.

One can’t really be surprised at the arrogance of David and Charles Koch or the US Chamber of Commerce or the Republican leadership in their defense of a dying industry. For a century, Big Oil was king. Oil elected presidents, made fortunes, and stoked wars — indeed, many of them. Coal, oil, and gas powered the economy. It’s hard for this sector to believe it’s on the way out.

Yet facts are stubborn things. The climate is changing whether Trump likes it, believes it, and accepts it or not. Fossil fuels are the heart of the problem and will have to go. Trump tried mightily to break the Paris climate agreement in the lead-up to the G-20 meeting in Hamburg last month. He thought he’d peel away Russia, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and Indonesia — all fossil-fuel-producing nations. But Trump had no success. The G-20 went 19-1 against the US position; every other country declared the Paris agreement to be non-negotiable.

At the end of the day, the politicians are not the key to this drama. Scientists and engineers have the upper hand, the former because they aim for truth rather than for power or wealth, and the latter because they hold the real keys to the kingdom: the technological systems that make the modern economy function. Elon Musk, not Donald Trump, will do the most to shape the future of transportation. And Tesla’s moderately priced Model 3, out this week, will deliver another sharp blow to the fossil fuel lobby.

In the end, smart money will follow the scientists and engineers, not the politicians, and today’s smart money will be the future’s big money. All signs are that the smart money is already on the move toward low carbon. Here are some particulars.

First, JP Morgan announced this week that it would channel $200 billion into green investments, including wind and solar power, by 2025, as well as go to renewables in its own energy use. This is not only a considerable sum in its own right, but an important signal by America’s leading commercial bank about its bet on the future of the economy. It squares with the ongoing boom in global green-bond funding, which looks set to reach around $200 billion this year, roughly double of last year’s total.

Second, the fossil fuel investments that Trump is trying to resurrect look unlikely to rise from the dead. The biggest stakes are the Keystone XL Pipeline project of TransCanada, a proposed pipeline from the heavy oil sands of Alberta Canada to US refineries in the Gulf of Mexico. Barack Obama closed down the project in 2015 because of its adverse impacts on global warming; Trump, with much bravado, issued an order this January to restore it.

The problem for Trump and Trans-Canada is that the world does not need, and cannot safely use, Canada’s oil sands. They are expensive to produce, result in high carbon emissions per unit of energy produced, and will have no market in the carbon-constrained world economy of the late 2020s and 2030s, when global energy consumers will be accelerating the shift to renewable energy. As Clint Eastwood might have said to TransCanada, “Go ahead, make my day.” If TransCanada puts down the billions to complete the pipeline, the company and its creditors will end up with a bankrupt project.

Even TransCanada is waking up to the hard truth. In its mid-year earnings call in July, the management disclosed that the company had not yet determined whether it would pursue the project, leaving the decision until the fall. The problem, it seems, is that it can’t be sure of customers down the road. Indeed.

We are in a time of rapid change — technological, economic, and political. The vested interests of the old order are resisting change, and Trump is resister in chief. But the direction of change is clear, and the industries of the future are already pushing aside the laggards.


A Greenie idea: The government should pay people not to reproduce

So there would be nobody to support the elderly?

A slightly alarming piece by an opinion columnist in the Dominion Post newspaper in New Zealand last week: It is entitled “Why the Greens should offer tax cuts for the childless”. For our, demographic, purposes, the real meat is from about halfway down where the columnist makes some slightly outdated assertions I would have thought:

“Strangely, in an overpopulated planet, more stigma is still attached to women who decide not to have children than to women who believe it is their right to breed, and expect a government handout to support them from the get-go.”
Of course, the notion of an overpopulated planet has been with us for many years, decades and centuries, yet with 8 billion people on the planet, the world has never been better fed and the standard of living of the planet overall is at historically undreamed-of levels. Furthermore, in a few short decades the demographic story is not going to be overpopulation, except in Africa. It will be demographic implosion. Just ask Elon Musk…Secondly, is it true that there is such stigma attached to women who decide not to have children? I would think that such women who can have children and choose not to are probably making the wrong decision as I contemplate the joys that my own children have brought me. But I don’t think I stigmatise them. And I certainly wouldn’t say anything. Furthermore, I have no idea why the women that I know who do not have children are in that situation, so for me to stigmatise them would be presumptuous in the extreme. But maybe I’m wrong, maybe there is such stigma out there that I’m not aware of…

But because the planet is overpopulated, the author believes that a better policy for the Greens to have announced would have been a tax break for the childless:

“Deciding to have none-in-the-oven and stop sucking the planet of its valuable resources is a more rational decision than putting pressure on an overtaxed environment. But still the childless are viewed as selfish. Surely it would have been more in keeping with the Greens’ pro-planet philosophy to award tax cuts to the childless? It’s not just the cows who are gross waste producers.”
Of course, who is going to be paying for the healthcare and the pensions of the childless in the decades to come? The children of those who decide to have them now (and don’t get a tax cut for it). Perhaps there is merit in such a tax cut scheme if it were introduced with a scheme that one’s entitlement to pensions and heathcare as an elderly person was linked to the number of taxpayers one had “bred”. The matriarch of 15 grandchildren would stand to benefit…Finally, there is a slight difference between cows and people. People are not “gross” waste producers. Or at least, they are not just such things. They are also producers, conservers, technological innovators, columnist, Green party leaders etc etc That is, to look as people as waste producers is to look at less than half the story. It is synecdoche without remembering that the part describes the whole and that the part is not the whole. One hopes that the Green party don’t read this column and start getting any ideas…


A common grassland species found in Greece benefits from elevated CO2 levels
Paper Reviewed: Kostopoulou, P. and Karatassiou, M. 2017. Lotus corniculatus L. response to carbon dioxide concentration and radiation level variations. Photosynthetica 55: 522-531.

Writing as background for their study, Kostopoulou and Karatassiou (2017) state that Lotus corniculatus L. (birdsfoot trefoil) is a common grassland species found in Greece that thrives under a variety of soil conditions, including hardpan, dry, moist, acid, saline and infertile soils. Agronomically, it is important "because of its high nutritive value, and the nonbloating features when grazed directly by livestock." Given its relative importance as a forage species, the two Greek researchers thus set out to examine how L. corniculatus might respond to future changes in the atmosphere's CO2 concentration.

To accomplish their objective Kostopoulou and Karatassiou measured a number of gas-exchange parameters (net photosynthetic rate, transpiration rate, stomatal conductance and intercellular CO2 concentration) under ambient (380 ppm) or elevated (800 ppm) CO2 on L. corniculatus plants growing at two separate field sites: a mountain grassland and a lowland grassland.

Results of their analysis revealed that elevated CO2 slightly reduced the transpiration rates of L. corniculatus at both sites (by 15% in the mountains and 3 % in the lowland). In addition, elevated CO2 marginally reduced stomatal conductance, by 4 % in the mountain location and 14% in the lowlands. Intercellular CO2 concentration and net photosynthetic rate, however, both experienced large increases under elevated CO2; intercellular CO2 increased by 90% in the mountains and by 122% in the lowlands, whereas the net photosynthetic rate increased by around 80% at both sites. Plant water use efficiency, calculated as the ratio of net photosynthetic rate over transpiration rate, increased by a whopping 116% for L. corniculatus plants growing in the mountain site and by a respectable 85% for the plants growing in the lowland site, which enhancements Kostopoulou and Karatassiou say will enable the plants "to use more efficiently the available water reserves under drought conditions."

All things considered, it would thus appear that this important grassland species will benefit from future increases in the air's CO2 concentration.



Four current reports below

Hundreds of thousands left in the dark as Adelaide suffers ANOTHER blackout

Ain't "renewable" power grand?

Parts of northern Adelaide are without power with police calling on motorists to take care as lights are out. Power is out across the city and early morning commuters are facing delays due to a number of traffic lights not working in the area.

Images have been posted to social media of baristas attempting to make coffee using the lights on their phones as they wait for power to return.

Motorists are advised to avoid O'Connell Street which is without working traffic lights, with Main North Road, Barton Terrace and Chapel Street also affected, South Australian police say.

Street lights are also out in the area, causing extremely dangerous conditions for drivers and pedestrians travelling in the area.

Major traffic delays are expected while the power problem is resolved.

The outage was first reported around 5am on Friday and has left approximately 268 properties without power.

It is the latest in a string of power failures in Adelaide, as the city seeks alternative energy systems including Musk's megawatt battery.

Diesel generators are being rushed to be installed in the city, but The Advertiser reported the nine 'state-of-the-art' turbines will lose 25 per cent of their capacity in extreme heat.

Premier Jay Weatherill said Tuesday the generators would be operational by December, but will lose a quarter of the 276MW production when temperatures exceed 40 degrees.

The forced blackouts Adelaide experienced in February this year were the result of a 41 degree day. South Australia went through a state-wide blackout in September last year.


Queenslanders blame renewable energy for rising power prices, Galaxy Poll finds

QUEENSLANDERS are blaming renewable energy for their surging power prices, forcing them to cut spending on holidays, dinners and clothes to cover the costs.

Most Queenslanders have also backed a proposal for a new coal-fired power station in the north of the state to help drive economic opportunities and bring down prices.

The findings from a new Galaxy Poll, commissioned exclusively for The Courier-Mail, are a bitter blow for the Palaszczuk Government which has hotly pursued a 50 per cent renewable energy target and condemned the costs of new coal-fired power.

Ahead of a crisis meeting on prices next week with Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, energy retailers yesterday blamed the lack of a coherent national policy for forcing up costs.

The Reserve Bank also warned the rising price of electricity and gas would put pressure on inflation, hitting households with higher bills as well as increased costs passed on by business.

Queensland’s standard electricity tariff has surged from 14¢ per kWh with a $5.40 a month service fee to almost 26¢ per kWh and 87¢ a day over the last decade.

A typical Queensland customer will pay almost $2000 for power in 2017-18 while small businesses will pay $2550 after rises of 3.3 per cent and 4.1 per cent respectively.

The Palaszczuk Government spared households from further price pain by absorbing the $770 million cost of the solar bonus scheme’s 44¢ feed-in tariff over the next three years. However, the high-priced home-produced power was forecast to add $4.1 billion to power bills overall.

The Galaxy Poll found 47 per cent of voters believed renewable energy was driving up their prices, while just 14 per cent thought solar, wind and other sources were keeping costs down.

It found 28 per cent believed renewables were having no impact.

One in three of Labor’s own supporters were critical of renewables.

Opposition was strongest at 62 per cent among One Nation voters, the key group both major parties are desperate to appeal to ahead of the looming state election.

The poll found 50 per cent of voters supported a coal-fired power station in north Queensland while 40 per cent were opposed. Support was strongest in regional Queensland and among LNP voters.

Respondents were also asked about the impact power bills was having on their spending. Voters identified little luxuries (43 per cent), holidays (42 per cent), eating out (37 per cent) and purchasing new clothes (33 per cent).

The impact escalated as household income declined, however those on more than $100,000 were also cutting their spending.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said her Government had kept the electricity assets and increased concessions. “We kept our power generators in public hands and we are attracting new private sector investment in large-scale projects because we have energy security,” she said.

“The LNP liked coal-fired generation so much, they wanted to sell them off to overseas interests and those returns would have gone offshore as well.”

Opposition Leader Tim Nicholls blamed recent wholesale power price spikes on Labor’s decision to load up Government-owned generators with debt.

“Queenslanders know Labor’s headlong rush to a 50 per cent renewable energy target will just drive up prices even more, not to mention the risk that we will do a South Australia and battle to keep the lights on,” he said.

Australian Energy Council chief executive Matthew Warren insisted the best way to put downward pressure on power prices was to introduce a “coherent national energy”.  “Recent power price increases are the result of old generators closing and the lack of a consistent plan as to how to replace them,” he said. “This is a national policy failure that has been a decade in the making.”

In its latest statement on monetary policy, the RBA also blamed a lack of investment caused by policy uncertainty for impacting prices. “Along with the direct effects on household utility bills, there will also be indirect effects on inflation as a result of rising business input costs,” it said.


ANOTHER coal mine in central Queensland has been given the green light

Meteor Downs South project had been given the go ahead by Sojitz

Natural Resources and Mines Minister Anthony Lynham said the Meteor Downs South project had been given the go ahead by Sojitz Coal Mining and U&D Mining. It follows the green light for the $1.7 billion Byerwen project by QCoal and the restart of the Isaac Plains mine, the Blair Athol mine and Collinsville.

The project, about 45km southeast of Springsure, would be operated by Sojitz Corporation subsidiary SCM which also owns and operates the Minerva Mine, and is expected to generate 40 to 50 full time jobs for the local community when fully operational.

“The decision by Sojitz and U&D is more positive job and economic news for central Queensland communities,” he said. “This investment of more than $30 million represents another vote of confidence in our state, as we continue to see the sustainable development of our resources sector.

“For locals and families in towns like Springsure, Rolleston and across the surrounding region, this is a real shot in the arm.”

Dr Lynham said preliminary onsite activities for the project were expected to commence later this year, with construction expected to start in January 2018. “Once Meteor Downs reaches the production stage, the mine is expecting to export coal via the Port of Gladstone,” he said.

The mine will have an annual capacity of more than 1.5 million tonnes when fully operational and a mine life of about 10 years


Cut power prices or business will go bust, says Glencore boss

The nation’s biggest coalminer and copper producer, Glencore, has called for the abolition of the renewable energy target and suggested delaying Paris climate commitments as Australian industry struggles under the weight of rising power costs.

And in comments backed by big manufacturers, Glencore says Chief Scientist Alan Finkel’s proposed clean energy target will not be enough to save heavy industry, which needs pricing concessions from policies designed to tackle emissions reductions.

Speaking in Sydney yesterday, Glencore’s senior Australia-based executive, its global coal chief Peter Freyberg, said 10 years of poor policy development was coming home to roost.

“Electricity prices have got to a level where many industries, both large and medium, are either suffering or are becoming uneconomic because of high energy prices,” he said. “Either we intervene now to protect those businesses or we let them go — that’s a government decision.”

He said the RET, which was put in place with bipartisan support, and state-based renewable targets needed to be abolished and a national energy policy that allowed exemptions for heavy industry put in place.

“All we have is a renewable ­energy target that is seeing billions of dollars chucked into ­renewables and baseload power being shut down,” he said. “We are seeing the consequence of that in elevated energy prices and businesses going out of business.”

He said that if something had to take a back seat in solving the so-called energy “trilemma” of ­affordability, reliability and emissions reductions, it should be emissions.

“Let’s get energy and affordability right and then work emissions reductions into that in an orderly way,” Mr Freyberg said.

“That way we can achieve emissions reductions by sustaining the economy rather than achieving it by destroying the economy.”

If exempting heavy industry from emissions targets meant a delay in meeting Paris climate accord commitments, that should be looked at, he said.

Glencore makes almost all its coal profits from exports so is not overly exposed to reductions in the nation’s coal-fired power use.

But its Australian electricity bill is about $400 million a year and power is a third of the costs at its Mount Isa copper smelter and Townsville copper refinery.

Former prime minister Tony Abbott, who has called for a freeze on the renewable energy target at 15 per cent, said low power prices were critical for industry. “You can’t run a business, you can’t produce a great product and can’t employ people without energy and without power,” Mr Abbott said yesterday. “We need affordable, reliable power and policy has to change.’’

Federal Environment and Energy Minister Josh Frydenberg said the Turnbull government was committed to the RET. “The government remains committed to the renewable energy target, as legislated in 2015, recognising that it was the Coalition that ensured a 100 per cent exemption for emissions-intensive trade-exposed businesses,” Mr Frydenberg said.

He said Mr Freyberg was “absolutely right” that affordable, reliable power must be the number one priority.

“We support his call for the abolition of state-based renewable energy targets which only create inefficiencies across the system,” he said.

The Coalition and the Council of Australian Governments Energy Council have supported 49 of the 50 Finkel recommendations.
But the last, the CET, has not cleared the Coalition partyroom, where there is concern it will push up prices by discouraging coal-fired generation.

The Glencore boss said Dr Finkel’s CET was not enough on its own to take care of energy policy, no matter where the target was set and whether or not it encouraged cleaner coal technologies.

“There are a number of unanswered questions in terms of the modelling and analysis in the review, such as ‘what is the assumed make-up and nature of Australia’s industrial base — and, just as importantly — what are the policy recommendations around future energy affordability’?” he said.

This was backed by Manufacturing Australia, which represents the chief executives of 10 of the nation’s biggest manufacturers, including BlueScope Steel, Brickworks, CSR, Rheem, Dulux and Incitec Pivot.

“The Finkel report had some good recommendations with regards to security and emissions, but it really misses the mark on affordability, or internationally competitive prices,” MA chief executive Ben Eade said.

Targets had been recommended for emissions, through the CET, and reliability, through obligations for reliability, but none for prices, he said.

“If success is measured in getting electricity prices down from $120 a megawatt hour to $100 a megawatt hour, that’s not going to be good enough for heavy industry,” Mr Eade said.

“We need a grown-up discussion about what an internationally competitive energy price is for heavy industry and we think it is in the $60 to $80 range.”

Rio Tinto’s global chief executive Jean-Sebastien Jacques, who has railed against the impact of power prices on his Queensland aluminium assets, said affordability was key.

“What we want is an affordable and reliable source of energy, we want to make sure that Australia is globally competitive,” Mr Jacques said.

Mr Freyberg last week increased Glencore’s Australian coal presence by taking a stake in Rio Tinto’s Hunter Valley coalmines.




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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