Wednesday, May 01, 2019

New Study on GND Effects: 'Barely Distinguishable From Zero'   

In a column for The Patriot Post in August of 2015, meteorologist and climate analyst Joe Bastardi asked, “All This for .01 Degrees Celsius?” in reference to Barack Obama’s scheme “to reduce greenhouse gases to save us from an apocalyptic atmosphere.” Bastardi’s point was to show that Obama’s carbon-emissions-reduction methods would accomplish virtually nothing. But don’t take his word for it. He cited former EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy, who at the time “admitted that the steps being taken would only prevent .01 degrees Celsius of warming, but it was the example that counted for the rest of the world.”

The Green New Deal is no different — both in terms of its bloviators and its influence.

According to the American Enterprise Institute’s Benjamin Zycher, the Left’s newest climate and socioeconomic monstrosity would similarly accomplish nothing — except to promote socialism. “Notwithstanding the assertions from GND proponents that it is an essential policy to confront purportedly adverse climate phenomena,” he writes, “the future temperature impacts of the zero-emissions objective would be barely distinguishable from zero: 0.173°C by 2100, under the maximum Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change parameter (equilibrium climate sensitivity) about the effects of reduced GHG emissions.” He adds, “Under an assumption consistent with the findings reported in the recent peer-reviewed literature, the effect would be 0.083°C by 2100.”

Coming back full circle to Gina McCarthy’s ultimate objective, The Daily Wire’s Emily Zanotti says, “Green New Deal proponents, including Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), have long claimed that the GND … would be worth it if it such extreme measures would in the long run lessen our impact on climate.” Yet Zycher reports that “the annual economic cost of the GND would be about $9 trillion.” That’s a whole lot of nothing for a “deal” that will cost the economy $9 trillion annually and not really lessen our impact on climate.

Whether it’s the Clean Power Plan, Paris Climate Accord, or Green New Deal, the Left believes that spending oodles of money will solve the “problem” (whatever that is), even though some of them have conceded that temperatures won’t really change all that much. As Zycher summarily puts it, “The GND’s real goal is wealth redistribution to favored political interests under the GND social-policy agenda and a dramatic increase in government control of resource allocation more generally.”


Ford under criminal investigation by the US government over emissions certification

The U.S. Justice Department has opened a criminal investigation into Ford Motor Co.'s emissions certification process.

Ford said in February that it had begun an internal investigation into whether its vehicles have worse gas mileage and emit more pollutants than car, truck and SUV labels actually reveal, going back to 2017 models.

“Our investigation continues into how Ford estimates road load as part of the U.S. fuel economy and emissions certification process," Kim Pittel, the company's vice president for environment and safety engineering, said in a new statement issued Friday.

"We are working with regulators and independent experts to complete a technical review, as planned," she said. "The Department of Justice contacted us earlier this month to let us know that they had opened a criminal investigation."

An anonymous employee reporting system at Ford raised the issue in September 2018, the company disclosed in February.

On Friday, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission publicly posted the company filing where Ford disclosed a criminal investigation.

"As previously reported, the Company has become aware of a potential concern involving its U.S. emissions certification process," the filing said.

"We voluntarily disclosed this matter to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the California Air Resources Board on February 18, 2019, and February 21, 2019, respectively. Subsequently, the U.S. Department of Justice opened a criminal investigation into the matter. In addition, we have notified a number of other state and federal agencies. We are fully cooperating with all government agencies. Because this matter is still in the preliminary stages, we cannot predict the outcome, and we cannot provide assurance that it will not have a material adverse effect on us."

DOJ not mentioned

After the stock market closed Thursday, CFO Bob Shanks delivered a media briefing at Ford World Headquarters in Dearborn, Michigan, where he noted more than once that first quarter earnings would be the best of the year because of due to expected restructuring costs.

Two hours later, Ford CEO Jim Hackett, Shanks and other top executives held an extensive discussion in a call with investors and raised many issues. Executives cited challenges facing the company, ranging from geopolitics, product launches and factory retrofits to UAW contract negotiations, but didn't mention the investigation.

Jennifer Flake, executive director of Ford global markets, operations and product communications, explained to the Free Press on Friday, "We make filings like this, in part, to disclose or flag certain risks. ... We want the market to be aware of that."

Ford has not announced any personnel changes related to the investigation.

The investigation, which Ford confirmed, requires significant technical expertise and will last awhile. These cases often involve big fines.

"Ford doesn’t know where this is going to end up," said Peter Henning, a former federal prosecutor who teaches law at Wayne State University. "The benefit of self-reporting is that the company receives credit for that. The decision ultimately about whether to bring a criminal charge will hinge on how cooperative the company is. Here, Ford seems to have gotten out in front of this issue, and that will be a benefit for them going forward."

Gina Balaya, spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney's Office in Detroit, said, "Department of Justice policy prohibits us from either confirming or denying the existence of an investigation."

Fiat Chrysler, VW, Mercedes too

Ford isn't the only member of the Detroit Three facing federal criminal investigation related to emissions.

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles is awaiting the results of an investigation into alleged diesel emissions cheating. The company, along with auto supplier Bosch, has agreed to settle a civil case in the matter that could result in payments of about $3,000 for some affected Jeep and Ram owners. FCA, which continues to deny any intentional cheating, expects to spend more than $790 million. The government, however, said the company not only broke the law but also tried to hide its actions.

FCA is also facing an unrelated recall, announced last month, of close to 1 million cars and SUVs as a result of emissions investigations.

And on April 14, Reuters reported Germany’s motor vehicle authority KBA was investigating Daimler on suspicion that 60,000 Mercedes cars produced between 2012 and 2015 were fitted with software designed to fool emissions tests.

Volkswagen settled an emissions cheating case with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for $14.7 billion in civil penalties and about $3 billion in criminal fines.

In addition, several of VW's executives have been charged criminally. The VW case involved "defeat devices" that kicked on during emissions testing but not in normal driving.

Unlike VW, Ford emphasized in February, when it disclosed its internal investigation, and again in Friday's SEC filing, "the potential concern does not involve the use of defeat devices."

The Ford incident surfaced through an employee "Speak Up" program that allows people to reach out on a number of issues, including concerns. Feedback is submitted by phone, email, website or mobile app.

"It allows them to confidentially share their concerns, come forward with questions and share their ideas about improving how the company runs," Flake said Friday.


Around the World, Buyer’s Remorse Sets in for Costly Clean Power

Two decades ago, governments and utilities around the world began offering above-market rates and contracts to fuel the rise of clean energy, helping wind and solar become some of the cheapest power sources. Now, these pacts are under attack.

In Canada, Ontario Premier Doug Ford killed hundreds of contracts for planned wind and solar farms. Spain pulled back subsidies, yanking the rug from projects already up and running. And in the U.S., bankrupt California power giant PG&E Corp. could soon move to renegotiate costly power deals signed when prices were three times as expensive as they are now.

The rollback has divided both policy makers and the energy industry, with some calling it a natural evolution and others warning that it will undermine clean energy growth just as wind and solar have finally become mainstream sources of power. While renewables can now compete head-to-head against coal and natural gas in some parts of the world, the risk of contracts getting dropped threatens to scare away investors and undermine the economics of capital-intensive projects.

“It sends shudders through the industry,” said Ethan Zindler, head of Americas research for BloombergNEF.

The blowback is, weirdly enough, a sign of renewable power’s success.

Beginning around 2000, governments began establishing incentives for clean power to fight global warming and generate jobs. The strategy worked, triggering a rapid rise in the installation of solar arrays and wind turbines. Prices plunged, falling 84 percent for solar over the last decade and 50 percent for wind, according to BNEF.

A Natural Evolution?

Early contracts -- which typically last for two decades -- began looking more expensive. It’s a natural progression for an emerging industry, said Nina Eshoo, founder of New York-based energy and infrastructure advisory firm Saltbox Partners.

“It’s an evolution of starting a new technology,” she said. “If more people are not going to pay for the beginning, then it won’t get developed.”

California began requiring utilities to buy wind and solar power as early as 2002. Some of those early contracts cost three times as much as today’s going rates, according to state data. Ditching them could save $1.4 billion annually, according to Moody’s Investors Service.

San Francisco-based utility owner PG&E, which filed for Chapter 11 in January, has asked the judge overseeing the case to rule that it has the right to throw out the deals. Just the prospect of those contracts getting killed or renegotiated has weighed on the company’s power suppliers and led to a tussle between PG&E and renewable-energy giant NextEra Energy Inc.

For its part, PG&E said in a statement that the company hasn’t decided what to do with the contracts in bankruptcy and recognizes that it has an “important role in supporting the state’s commitment to clean energy initiatives.”

The backlash first erupted in Spain, where a set of financial incentives were offered for clean power -- most notably, a subsidy called a feed-in tariff that guaranteed a premium price. By 2008, the country had become Europe’s hottest renewable market, with more than 4 gigawatts of solar and wind power installed that year, according to BloombergNEF data.

The only problem: Spain’s retail electricity prices weren’t high enough to cover the cost of producing it, a gap made ever-wider by rising fossil fuel prices and the subsidies. That “tariff deficit” ballooned just as the global economy fell into a tailspin. Spain ended up slashing incentives, wrecking the finances of even existing solar and wind farms. Installations plunged from 2.5 gigawatts in 2012 to 0.5 gigawatts the following year, according to BNEF, and they’ve only just begun to recover.

“These cuts effectively killed the new-build market there,” said Pietro Radoia, a Milan-based BNEF analyst.

In Canada, Ontario’s Ford rode into office last year on a populist wave, in part by arguing the province was paying too much for electricity. Canada’s most populous province had signed long-term contracts that handed wind and solar a premium, in part to create jobs. Within weeks of taking office, Ford began the process of canceling more than 700 contracts for future renewable projects, estimating it would save C$790 million ($600 million).

The pullback may be disruptive, but it could also be viewed simply as a sign of an industry growing up.

“The need for these subsidies might be rolling off faster than originally intended,” said Allan Marks, a Los Angeles-based partner at law firm Milbank LLC who specializes in energy and infrastructure, but “to me, that’s a success story.”


Battery Foolishness in Florida

The largest electric utility in Florida is proposing building the world’s largest battery to smooth the output of solar energy installations.

Wind and solar energy are erratic. Output depends on when the sun is shining or the wind is blowing. If only electricity could be economically stored, wind and solar would be a lot more practical, or at least, less impracticable. With storage, when the sun is shining or the wind is blowing, electricity could be stored for use when the wind or solar was temporarily dead in the water.

There are two methods of storing electricity that are not entirely inadequate: pumped storage and lithium batteries. Pumped storage is best, but it requires two reservoirs at considerably different heights. That’s out of the question in pancake-flat Florida. Batteries are great for computers, cellphones and portable drills. They are even semi-practical for automobiles like Tesla’s products. But batteries are desperately expensive for smoothing out wind or solar energy.

Florida Power and Light (FPL) is proposing that the world’s largest battery will be connected to a small solar plant. The battery will be capable of storing 900 megawatt hours of electricity. It will cost about $400 million. The solar plant in question has an average output of about 15 megawatts. The battery will be able to store 60 hours’ worth of the solar output. If it is cloudy for more than 60 hours the battery will likely run flat. There are over 100 cloudy days per year in nearby Tampa Florida, so one suspects that it is cloudy for more than 60 hours, or 3 days in a row, from time to time.

The electricity exiting from a typical utility scale solar plant, without subsidies, costs about $70 per megawatt hour. Adding the battery to the system will jack up the price to more than $300 per megawatt hour. An interesting sidelight is that the energy stored in FPL’s 900 MWh battery is equal to the energy in 800 tons of high explosive TNT. That is about 1/20th of the energy released by the atomic bomb that destroyed Hiroshima, Japan. Given the many fires traceable to lithium batteries, that is something to think about.

FPL’s proposed battery is capable of supplying 400 megawatts for 2 hours. That is a high rate of discharge, making the system more expensive. So, perhaps, the battery is actually intended to be a peaking generator pressed into service when electricity consumption peaks briefly. I suspect that this is the case and all the blather about solar energy is a cover story to make the battery fit in with green psychology. The beauty of painting something green is that it makes foolish projects desirable. The problem with the battery as a peaking generator is that for about the same money one can buy a combined cycle natural gas plant that can supply 400 megawatts for as long as you want, not just for two hours. Further the electricity from the gas plant will cost $50 per megawatt hour, not $300.

The profiteers who have painted wind, solar and batteries fluorescent green are very good at propaganda and changing the subject. Somehow reducing CO2 emissions has become an urgent priority. The profiteers never make a peep about the 86% of CO2 emissions that come from places outside our borders. China is building hundreds of new coal generating plants, the biggest emitters of CO2. Wind and solar are 70% subsidized. Now green ideologues are lobbying Congress to add batteries to the green welfare rolls.

Climate change, formerly known as global warming, is another green hoax. Clever propagandists have managed to make skepticism concerning global warming politically incorrect. Our legislators shake in their boots fearful of being tagged as climate deniers. If you want to know that it is a hoax it is only necessary to read the climategate emails among prominent scientist-promoters of global warming. Global warming made climate scientists rock stars rather than nerdy occupants of an academic Siberia. They vigorously defend their new celebrity status. The predictions of global warming come from complex computer models that are easy to manipulate under the influence of confirmation bias.

Utilities don’t shrink from building over-priced, useless projects. Actually, they are eager, frothing in the mouth and champing at the bit. The reason is that they add the cost of the useless project to their rate base. Regulation usually allows them a profit proportional to the size of the rate base. The catch is that a public utility commission must approve the project. In the current atmosphere, useless projects go through easily provided they are green.

Supposedly, Joseph Goebbels, Nazi Germany’s Minister of Propaganda, said “Repeat a lie often enough, it becomes the truth.” The Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto, who died in 1923, stated that men form their beliefs from emotion and passion and that rational justifications are window dressing for the underlying passion. A core justification for science is that scientists are supposed to form their beliefs based on rationality and data, not emotion or personal prestige. Unfortunately, in climate science, it’s not working. Similarly, journalists are supposed to be skeptical and dig for the truth. Instead, most journalists, especially in the big, establishment media companies, uncritically accept green delusions, be it windmills or global warming.

The picture is not completely dark. There are plenty of scientists that dispute the global warming/ climate change mythology. There are many journalists, especially outside of the big media companies, that write skeptically and intelligently about green ideology. It is disturbing that there are persistent efforts to silence these dissenters.

Calling people climate deniers and demanding that they listen to science are not discussions about public policy. These are attempts to hold people to public ridicule and silence dissenters. It is disgusting that big media and big science engage in these tactics. It is sad that our legislators cower in the face of these attacks.

It is difficult to challenge global warming propaganda, because the science is very opaque and complex. However, the engineering and economics behind green energy is not particularly difficult. There are thousands of engineers and scientists that understand perfectly well that green energy is largely fraudulent. But the dissenters are not organized or well-financed. The promoters of green energy are connected to large business with billions of dollars of annual sales. They are able to control public opinion and the legislative agenda with money and influence.


Australian Labor party climate change spokesman says it’s impossible to cost Labor’s climate change policy

Opposition climate change spokesman Mark Butler says it is “impossible” to cost Labor’s climate change policy because Labor is not putting a direct carbon price on businesses.

Mr Butler said in Perth today businesses would ultimately influence the economic cost of Labor policy and claimed “that is what they asked Labor for” and the Parliamentary Budget Office could not cost it.

“It isn’t possible to cost this because a Shorten government ... would not be imposing a direct carbon price, and certainly not a carbon tax,” he said in Perth today.

“What we have decided to do, after talking exhaustively with business groups over the last 12 to 18 months, is simply adopt the safeguards mechanism proposed by Malcolm Turnbull.

“All that mechanism does is set a limit on carbon pollution. If businesses are able to stick to their limit, they won’t hear from government anymore ... there is no price impact at all.

“If they are not able to stick to their limit ... they will have the broadest possible range of offsets. But how business deals with that is a matter for them.

“It won’t be dictated by Canberra so it won’t be costed by Canberra.”



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