Tuesday, December 24, 2019

  Merry Christmas and a happy New Year to all who come by here

May this Holy time bring you all its blessings

I will be posting over the Christmas New Year period but not as much as usual

These activists really are crackers! Now the Greenies want to ban your Christmas bonbon – and the reason why is all too familiar

Environmental activists are calling for the traditional Christmas cracker to be banned as they contribute to plastic waste.

Environmentalist and founder of eco-friendly online store Biome, Tracey Bailey, says the Christmas tradition is responsible for a large contribution of plastic waste to landfill every year.

Ms Bailey told the Courier Mail that the disposable plastic toys inside the crackers should be considered just as harmful as other single use plastic items including straws, cutlery, beverage stirrers and cotton buds.

She believed that the plastic trinkets should be included in worldwide government bans on single use plastics and explained: 'They are just as likely to end up washing down drains and in to our oceans.'

Ms Bailey said that families could help reduce the large amount of rubbish over Christmastime by abstaining from purchasing crackers with the plastic toys. 

She told how the yule tradition led to excess waste and said: 'Once the festivities are over, the toys are usually forgotten and discarded with the rubbish from Christmas lunch or dinner.'

A spokesperson from the environmental organisation Planet Ark said that avoiding bonbons would be a good way to reduce the impact of Christmas waste.

He said: 'It is possible to make your own low waste bonbons by using recycled paper and treats you've made yourself.'

Ms Bailey explained that making your own plastic free Christmas crackers would be a good eco friendly alternative. 

She said that you can use cardboard toilet roll inserts, recycled paper and twine to create the outside shell and replace the plastic toy with a random act of kindness card for the recipient to complete.


Trump Administration Finalizes Rule That Will Roll Back Light Bulb Ban

The Energy Department announced that it had finalized its decision to roll back the 2007 rule that banned incandescent light bulbs in favor of energy-efficient CFLs.

DOE said that although the CFLs increase efficiency in light bulbs, it costs the consumers 300 percent more to light their homes. But the real benefit to repealing the ban is that it will once again, give consumers a choice.


The move is part of the administration’s push to ease regulations by requiring agencies to ditch two old regulations for each one they propose. The administration has also rolled back Obama-era regulations on pollution and emissions as it seeks to maximize oil, gas and coal production.

The roll back on light bulbs has been challenged in court by 15 states and Washington, D.C. who say it would harm state efforts to fight emissions blamed for climate change.

Environmental groups decried the decision. The Natural Resources Defense Council, a nonprofit, said it would cost consumers $14 billion in energy bills annually and create the need to generate the amount of electricity provided by an additional 30 500-megawatt power plants.

I call BS on those claims. They don't factor in savings from buying incandescent rather than CFL bulbs and many people realize the savings and will keep using CFLs. What the greens object to is giving people a choice. You see, they don't think you're smart enough to act in your own interest.

The NRDC said old-fashioned incandescent bulbs, which give off more of their energy in heat rather than light, comprise nearly half of today’s bulb sales.

“The Trump administration just thumbed its nose at Congress, America’s families and businesses, and the environment,” said Noah Horowitz, an energy efficiency specialist at the NRDC.

This American family thanks the president for giving us the choice. It's called "freedom" for that reason and the green hysterics can't stand it.

Some people may want to continue using the CFLs. There is an argument that they lower electric bills by using less energy. But many other consumers balk at the expense and complain about the reduced illumination. A 105-watt-equivalent bulb can cost between $25 and $50.

Most CFLs are fine for general illumination, but I like a nice, bright, soft, 100-watt incandescent bulb to read by. It may be energy inefficient, so sue me. That's my choice and I'm glad I still have it.


Trump to Make Dishwashers Great Again!

The president’s war on environmental regulations is one of his signature fights. Here’s where dishwashers come into it.

As Congress voted to impeach President Trump in Washington, D.C., he appeared at a spirited rally in Battle Creek, Michigan.

During a long speech, he turned his attention to another issue on his mind: dishwashers.

The president said he'd heard complaints about environmental regulations making the kitchen appliances inefficient.

"Remember the dishwasher?" he said. "You'd press it, boom! There’d be like an explosion. Five minutes later you open it up, the steam pours out.”

"Now you press it 12 times. Women tell me ..." the president said. "You know, they give you four drops of water."

The statement quickly went viral, but this is not the first time dishwashers have made recent news. The New York Times reported a lobbying group FreedomWorks –an offshoot of a group founded by Charles and the late David Koch– to ‘Make Dishwashers Great Again’ through more lax environmental regulations.

A signature feature of Trump’s presidency has been the effort to end or roll back Obama-era environmental policies to generate economic growth that many believe is hindered by green regulations.

The president described his plan as based on rolling back federal regulations and incorporating “better machinery” into the market.

Environmental advocates argue that changes to water regulations for dishwashers, if placed into effect, would have negative impacts. Modern dishwashers have improved greatly and now only use half of the water and energy of older models. Eliminating these regulations would use more water and more energy, advocates say, and cost the average household more money.


The snark of carbon capture and storage (CCS)

The original use envisaged for carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology was to take CO 2 out of the chimneys of coal-fired power plants and pump it deep underground; do it right and the power station will be close to carbon-neutral. Apply the same technology to a biomass-burning plant and the CO 2 you pump into the depths is not from ancient fossils, but from recently living plants—and, before them, the atmosphere. Hey presto: negative emissions. And BECCS does not just get rid of CO 2: it produces power, too. The solar energy that photosynthesis stored away in the plants’ leaves and wood gets turned into electricity when that biomass is burned. It is almost as if nature were paying to get rid of the stuff.

There are, as you might expect, some difficulties. Even if you regularly take some away for burning, growing biomass on the requisite scale still takes a lot of land. Also, the bog-standard CCS of which BECCS is meant to be a clever variant has never really made its mark. It has been talked about for decades; the IPCC produced a report about it in 2005. Some hoped that it might become a mainstay of carbon-free energy production. But for various reasons, technical, economic and ideological, it has not.

The world has about 2,500 coal-fired power stations, and thousands more gasfired stations, steel plants, cement works and other installations that produce industrial amounts of CO 2. Just 19 of them offer some level of ccs, according to the Global Carbon Capture and Storage Institute (GCCSI), a CCS advocacy group. All told, roughly 40m tonnes of CO 2 are being captured from industrial sources every year— around 0.1% of emissions.

Why so little? There are no fundamental technological hurdles; but the heavy industrial kit needed to do CCS at scale costs a lot. If CO 2 emitters had to pay for the privilege of emitting to the tune, say, of $100 a tonne, there would be a lot more interest in the technology, which would bring down its cost. In the absence of such a price, there are very few incentives or penalties to encourage such investment. The greens who lobby for action on the climate do not, for the most part, want to support ccs. They see it as a way for fossil-fuel companies to seem to be part of the solution while staying in business, a prospect they hate. Electricity generators have seen the remarkable drop in the price of wind and solar and invested accordingly.

In some circumstances, you do not need a subsidy, a carbon price or any other intervention to make capturing CO 2 pay.

Selling it will suffice. The commercial use of CO 2 is nothing new. Not long after the great British chemist Joseph Priestley first made what he called “fixed air” in the 1760s, an ingenious businessman called Johann Jacob Schweppe was selling soda water in Geneva. CO 2, mostly from natural sources, is still used to make drinks fizzy and for other things. Many greenhouses make use of it to stimulate the growth of plants.

The use case

The problem with most of these markets from a negative-emissions point of view is that the CO 2 gets back into the atmosphere in not much more time than it takes a drinker to belch. But there is one notable exception. For half a century oil companies have been squirting CO 2 down some of their wells in order to chase recalcitrant oil out of the nooks and crannies in the rock—a process known as enhanced oil recovery, or EOR. And though the oil comes out, a lot of the CO 2 stays underground.

The oil industry goes to some inconvenience to capture the 28m tonnes of CO 2 a year it uses for EOR from natural sources (some gas wells have a lot of CO 2 mixed in with the good stuff). That effort is rewarded, according to the International Energy Agency, with some 500,000 barrels of oil a day, or 0.6% of global production. That seems like a market that CCS could grow into—though the irony of using CO 2 produced by burning fossil fuels to chase yet more fossil fuels out of the ground is not lost on anyone. The fact that oilfields in Texas regularly use EOR has made the state a popular site for companies trying out new approaches to carbon capture. A startup called Net Power has built a new sort of gas-fired power plant on the outskirts of Houston. Most such plants burn natural gas in air to heat water to make steam to drive a turbine. The Net Power plant burns natural gas in pure oxygen to create a stream of hot CO 2 which drives the turbine directly—and which, being pure, needs no further filtering in order to be used for EOR.

Also in Texas, Occidental Petroleum is developing a plant with Carbon Engineering, a Canadian firm which seeks to pull CO 2 straight out of the air, a process called direct air capture. Because CO 2 is present in air only at a very low concentration (0.04%) DAC is a very demanding business. But oil recovered through EOR that uses atmospheric CO 2 can earn handsome credits under California’s Low-Carbon Fuel Standards cap and trade programme. The scheme aims to be pumping 500,000 tonnes of CO 2 captured from the air into Occidental’s nearly depleted wells by 2022.

Not all the CO 2 pumped into the ground by oil companies is used for EOR. Equinor, formerly Statoil, a Norwegian oil company, has long pumped CO 2 into a spent field in the North Sea, both to prove the technology and to avoid the stiff carbon tax which Norway levies on emissions from the hydrocarbon industry. As a condition on its lease to develop the Gorgon natural-gas field off the coast of Australia, Chevron was required to strip the CO 2 out of the gas and store it. The resultant project is, at 4m tonnes a year, bigger than any other not used for EOR, and the world’s only CCS facility that could handle emissions on the scale of those from Drax.

In Europe, the idea has caught on that the costs of operating big CO 2 reservoirs like Gorgon’s will need to be shared between many carbon sources. This is prompting a trend towards clusters that could share the storage infrastructure. Equinor, Shell and Total, two more oil companies, are proposing to turn CCS into a service industry in Norway. For a fee they will collect CO 2 from its producers and ship it to Bergen before pushing it out through a pipeline to offshore injection points. In September, Equinor announced that it had seven potential customers, including Air Liquide, an industrial gas provider, and Acelor Mittal, a steelmaker.

Return to sender

Similar projects for filling up the emptied gasfields of the North Sea are seeking government support in the Netherlands, where Rotterdam’s port authority is championing the idea, and in Britain, where the main movers are heavy industries in the north, including Drax.

This is part of what the GCCSI says is a steady increase in projects to capture and store, or use, CO 2. But the trend needs to be treated with caution. First and foremost, global carbon capture is still measured in the tens of millions of tonnes, not the billions of tonnes that matter to the climate. What the Gorgon project stores in a year, the world emits in an hour.

Second, the public support the sector has received in the past has often proved fickle or poorly designed. In 2012, the British government promised £1bn in funding for ccs, only to pull the plug in 2015. Two projects which had been competing for the money, a Scottish one that would have trapped CO 2 at an existing gas plant and one in Yorkshire which planned to build a new coal-fired power station with ccs, were both scrapped. This history makes the £800m for CCS that Boris Johnson, the prime minister, has promised as part of the current election campaign even less convincing than most such pledges.

Tax breaks, experimental capture plants, new fangled ways of producing electricity and talk of infrastructure hubs amount to an encouraging buzz, but not yet much more. A CCS industry capable of producing lots of BECCS plants remains a long way off, as does the infrastructure for gathering sustainably sourced biomass for use in them. Carbon Engineering and its rival DAC companies, such as Climeworks and Skytree, remain very expensive ways of getting pure CO 2. If they can find new markets and push their costs down both by learning better tricks and through economies of scale, they may yet be part of the solution.

But for now, it looks like most of the CO 2 being pumped into the atmosphere will stay there for a very long time.


Australia: Investment in solar, wind farms drying up

A sharp slump in new investment in wind and solar farms will continue unless a price is put on carbon or the Renewable Energy Target is extended beyond next year, the Clean Energy Council warns.

CEC chief executive Kane Thornton said investment in renewable energy had dropped by 60 per cent in the past year and declines would continue without government intervention. He said this would put pressure on power prices and reliability as coal generators aged.

The comments ignited a debate about whether renewable energy was the cheapest form of power, as advocates including Anthony Albanese and Malcolm Turnbull claim. Energy Minister Angus Taylor said large-scale renewables projects would not receive any further government support. "The clean energy industry has assured us that the cost of renewables is now competitive with alternatives so we would expect investment to continue in the absence of subsidies," he said. "An industry that is now competitive shouldn't require additional subsidies, Mr Taylor said.

Nearly 70 per cent of Australia's electricity was generated from coal-fired power this year compared with 22.6 per cent from renewables. The RET will result in 33,000GWh of power being derived from renewable power generation next year and the subsidies will continue until 2030 but only for plants constructed by 2020.

The scheme operates by allowing large renewable power stations, such as wind farms, to create renewable energy certificates for every megawatt hour of power they generate. The certificates are bought by electricity retailers who sell the electricity to householders and businesses.

Mr Thornton said the industry was not asking for subsidies, despite his call for an extension of the RET. "The RET could actually be extended in a way that provides that certainty," he said "The market will decide whether there is in fact a subsidy delivered or not "(In one project), the renewable energy certificates that were delivered were worth zero. So that project was essentially getting no subsidy but was getting certainty from the target."

The fall in investment from renewables, also shown in a report released this month by the Clean Energy Regulator, comes amid continuing tight supply in parts of the electricity market during periods of high demand.

The Australian Energy Regu-lator launched an investigation on Friday after South Australia's wholesale spot electricity price hit the market price cap of $14,700 a megawatt hour twice on Thursday night, amid a severe heatwave.

With the Morrison government moving to fund a feasibility study into a coal-fired power station in central Queensland, the Opposition Leader this week declared a new coal plant was not needed because "renewables are cheaper than fossil fuels".

"Markets will determine what the economics are of projects," he said. "And the economics of projects are showing that renewables are cheaper than fossil fuels and that change has occurred over a period of time. And one would expect that would continue."

According to a draft report on the energy market released by the CSIRO this month, electricity generated from new renewables projects will be cheaper than from coal projects that include carbon-capture storage.

It predicts a new wind project with six hours' storage would generate electricity at between $88-$112/MWh in 2030, dropping to between $82-$108/ MWh in 2030 and $71-$102/1"h in 2050. A new solar project with six hours storage will generate power at between $75-$11.8/MWh falling to $52-$95 by 2050:

A new thermal coal-fired power station that stored its carbon emisions would produce electricity at between $148-$200 MWh in 2020 and $137-$202/ MWh in 2050.

However, the projections show that new gas and coal projects without carbon-capture storage will be  cost competitive with renewables. A new coal-fired power station is expected to produce electricity for between $83-$l12 in 2020, with the price reducing slightly by 2050.  Electricity from a new gas power plant would produce power at between $67-$117.

Grattan Institute director Tony Wood said new coal-fired power stations without carbon capture storage would have trouble receiving finance because of concerns they would be forced to close if emissions targets became more ambitious.

He said the RET had helped renewable energy become competitive and he doubted major clean energy projects would come online under the Morrison government's policy settings.

From The Weekend Australian of 21 December, 2019


For more postings from me, see  DISSECTING LEFTISM, TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC and AUSTRALIAN POLITICS. Home Pages are   here or   here or   here.  Email me (John Ray) here.  

Preserving the graphics:  Most graphics on this site are hotlinked from elsewhere.  But hotlinked graphics sometimes have only a short life -- as little as a week in some cases.  After that they no longer come up.  From January 2011 on, therefore, I have posted a monthly copy of everything on this blog to a separate site where I can host text and graphics together -- which should make the graphics available even if they are no longer coming up on this site.  See  here or here


No comments: