Thursday, October 29, 2020

Oil and America's Energy Future

During last Thursday's debate, Joe Biden said his goal as president would be to "transition away from the oil industry." He has also said the future is in cars powered by electricity. Biden would build 500,000 charging stations across the country. It wasn't the first time he attacked the oil and job-producing industry in his worship of the cult of "climate change."

According to Energy Information Administration data, petroleum is America's No. 1 source of energy, providing approximately 40 percent of the nation's power needs. Biden claims oil is also a major pollutant. According to the website IQ Air, the United States ranks 87th out of 98 on a list of the "world's most polluted countries." We have done well in reducing pollutants without the overreaching arm of government forcing us into electric cars. We are also now energy independent.

My car gets 22 miles per gallon and can go 400 miles between fill-ups. As of 2016, there were approximately 111,000 gas stations in the U.S. The Bureau of Labor Statistics says they employ about 900,000 people. Would Biden force us to own electric cars and replace all those stations and convert every employee to jobs making windmills and solar panels?

Current technology does not support battery life sufficient to drive long distances. If a battery dies and no charging station is near, what then? Would Americans willingly give up the freedom the gasoline-powered car has provided for more than a century and embrace the apocalyptic predictions of politicians who likely will continue to enjoy transportation choices?

It is dangerous to predict the future. Americans should not be forced to accept such a radical lifestyle change that would have serious economic, political, and worldwide implications.

It is wise - even fun - to recall past predictions, which were sold at the time as certainties, but were wrong and, fortunately, not embraced by the public. As notes, "According to various experts, scientists and futurologists, we would have landed on Pluto and robots should be doing our laundry by now. Oh, and we'd all be living to 150." Nanobots and ape chauffeurs were also predictions that were said to be the norm by this year.

There are more, which seem laughable now, but were taken seriously by some at the time. In 1800, Dr. Dionysis Larder, professor at University College London, said: "Rail travel at high speed is not possible, because passengers, unable to breath, would die of asphyxia."

In 1859, associates of American businessman Edwin L. Drake mocked his suggestion to drill for oil: "Drill for oil? You mean dig into the ground to try and find oil? You're crazy." Later that year, Drake successfully drilled the first oil well.

In 1876, an internal Western Union memo said of the newly invented telephone: "This telephone has too many shortcomings to be seriously considered as a means of communication." Western Union believed the telephone's inventor, Alexander Graham Bell, to be a competitor.

Reacting to Thomas Edison's invention of the light bulb, Henry Morton, president of The Stevens Institute of Technology, said in 1880: "Everyone acquainted with the subject will recognize it as a conspicuous failure."

The Wright Brothers had their critics, who said humans could not fly. There were people who said moviegoers did not want to hear actors talk, motorcars were only a fad, radio and TV are useless and won't last, there is no reason for anyone to have a computer in the home and online databases would never replace newspapers. If only.

And then there are the wrong predictions of climate catastrophes and other end-of-the-world forecasts that never materialized.

Risking our future on unproven claims and predictions based on wishful thinking has a bad track record. If Biden is elected and follows through on his promises, it would wreak havoc on an American economy that was booming before the virus struck and is on the verge of a major recovery.

Americans Deserve Climate Facts, not Alarmist "Fact-checking"

In a statement submitted to the Senate Commerce Committee for its Wednesday, October 28 hearing on social media censorship, CO2 Coalition executive director Caleb Stewart Rossiter described a year-long censorship struggle with Facebook's climate "fact-checker," a group "founded and funded by long-time climate alarmist Eric Michelman for the express purpose of promoting the climate crisis narrative."

The CO2 Coalition is an alliance of 60 climate scientists and energy economists that was founded in 2015 by President Trump's former climate adviser on the National Security Council, Princeton physics professor William Happer.

Dr. Rossiter noted in his statement that climate science "covers literally everything from A to Z, from atmospheric heat dynamics to zooplankton. Why is Facebook treating varying analyses and opinions in this crucial area of public policy, one of great complexity and uncertainty, as if they were incitement to violence or hate speech? Why do we need fact-checking in the climate field?"

The Coalition's statement also comments on the call of Senator Brian Schatz (D-HI), one of the members of the committee, to ban the CO2 Coalition from Facebook. Senator Schatz claims that arguments that slow down "climate action" can harm public health, and so should be censored.

Rossiter said: "Yes, some mathematical models, based on uncertain scientific and economic assumptions, project that fossil-fueled global warming will harm public health in coming decades and centuries. But restrictions on fossil fuels because of this fear are already harming public health, right now. According to research for the National Institutes of Health, fracking saves 11,000 lives a year in America by making heating affordable. And the World Health Organization estimates that 439,000 Africans die from indoor air pollution each year because they lack electricity and must cook with wood and animal dung."

Via email

Meet the Climate Scientists That Social Media Censors Don't Want You to Know About

Before the Hunter Biden/New York Post/Twitter imbroglio blew up a little more than one week ago, one of the primary targets of social media censors and left-leaning activists was a small nonprofit operating out of Arlington, Virginia. That group is the CO2 Coalition, formed in 2015 to educate policymakers and the public about climate change and the benefits arising from increasing atmospheric carbon dioxide.

The coalition's leadership and members are a who's who of leading scientists studying carbon dioxide and climate change, including atmospheric physicists, climatologists, ecologists, statisticians, and energy experts.

The group's primary mission is stated as "educating thought leaders, policymakers, and the public about the important contribution made by carbon dioxide to our lives and the economy."

There is broad agreement in this diverse group that the 130 part-per-million increase in carbon dioxide over the past 150 years is not in any way harmful.

As you can imagine, these climate-science contrarians are not warmly received by the mainstream media or the social media giants. The mission of these platforms appears to be to silence any discussion that contradicts the so-called "consensus" that carbon dioxide is dangerous.

The mainstream media and social media giants are committed to defending the view that the modest rise in temperature of one degree Celsius over the past 150 years is mostly man-made and leading to catastrophe.

The social media giants' continued ability to stifle those who disagree will come under scrutiny Wednesday during a Senate hearing. More on that later.

Censorship of the CO2 Coalition and its chairman began a little more than a year ago, when the former president of the American Association of State Climatologists, Patrick Michaels, and the executive director of the CO2 Coalition, Caleb Rossiter, co-authored an op-ed in the Washington Examiner titled "The Great Failure of the Climate Models." They showed that the mathematical computer models used to promote global warming fears have been, for years, systematically predicting an exaggerated rate of warming in the tropical lower atmosphere-typically by a factor of three.

Climate Feedback, an organization that Facebook uses to "fack-check" climate-related content, labeled their opinion piece "false," which led the social media giant to block the distribution of the op-ed on its platform.

The CO2 Coalition and the Washington Examiner appealed to Facebook, providing a detailed scientific basis for their opinion. Confronted by the overwhelming body of evidence provided by the researchers, Facebook finally removed the label and again allowed the piece to be viewed and advertised.

One would have thought that would be the end of it, but the prognosticators of climate doom could not let it end.

First, a letter-signed by Stacey Abrams, Tom Steyer, and 13 leaders of groups working to ban fossil fuels-was sent to Facebook demanding that it shut down the Facebook page of the CO2 Coalition and to censor posts of its members' studies and articles on other users' pages.

Soon thereafter, four senators, including Massachusetts' Elizabeth Warren and Rhode Island's Sheldon Whitehouse, sent an open letter to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg to censor the CO2 Coalition because "climate change is an existential crisis" and publicizing any view contrary to that claim "puts action on climate change at risk."

The attempts at censorship were not limited to the group itself but extended to its chairman, Patrick Moore, a co-founder of Greenpeace. His PragerU video, "What They Haven't Told You About Climate Change," which has more than 3.6 million views, was "fact-checked" by Climate Feedback as "misleading." Moore's supposedly misleading statement was: "Of course the climate is changing. It always has. It always will."

Only recently was the misleading label removed after extended appeals by both Prager U and Moore.

The ability of the giant social media companies to continue to target those who dare to present evidence that doesn't "toe the company line" will be tested during a Senate Commerce and Science hearing Wednesday October 28.

The title of the hearing is "Does Section 230's Sweeping Immunity Enable Big Tech Bad Behavior?" The CO2 Coalition will present testimony concerning its views on the role of free speech and censorship.

Twitter, Facebook, and Google should not be the arbiters of truth on complex scientific and societal issues.

Perhaps they should embrace the dictum often attributed to Voltaire: "I may disagree strongly with what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it." Some of us would settle for, "live and let live."

Via email

Negative prices: South Australia solar farms had to pay to produce in September

Perverse. Their output has no relationship to the need for it -- so it is often worthless

South Australia’s three large scale solar farms had to effectively pay to produce in the month of September – as the average price of solar power in the state’s grid fell to minus $9.70 a megawatt hour over the calendar month.

“Record low wholesale prices in September resulted in South Australian solar farms having to pay $9.70/MWh to generate,” the Australian Energy Market Operator notes in its latest Quarterly Energy Dynamics report.

Over the whole quarter, the volume weighted average price of large scale solar was $23/MWh, down some 62 per cent from the same time in 2019, while the average price for all electricity produced in South Australia for the quarter was $40/MWh.

There are several reasons for the negative price of South Australia solar – firstly the increase in output from large scale solar, as Bungala 2 finally reached full output, the continued rapid expansion of rooftop solar, which in turn is dramatically reducing operating demand in the middle of the day, and grid constraints which limited the amount of exports from South Australia into Victoria.

South Australia has three large scale solar farms, the 110MW Bungala One installation near Port Augusta, the neighbouring 110MW Bungala Two (which has only just reached full output after nearly two years of delays due to technical issues), and the 95MW Tailem Bend solar farm near the town of the same name.

Tailem Bend usually ducks negative pricing events, turning its output down to zero under the terms of its long term power purchase agreement with Snowy Hydro.

But the two Bungala solar farms, under long term contracts with Origin Energy, plough through the negative prices. The exact nature of the contracts is not known, but it is not necessarily a bad thing for either party, but it’s not a great market signal for more solar, or for more off-take agreements – although it is for storage.

Across the National Electricity Market, which comprises South Australia, Victoria, Tasmania, NSW and Queensland, the average price for solar fell to $29/MWh in the September quarter, and the average price for wind fell to $38/MWh, both representing falls of around 50 per cent from the same period a year earlier.

AEMO’s QED report notes that curtailment of wind and solar farms across the NEM rose to 5.5 per cent in the September quarter, a result of the record levels of negative pricing events in South Australia and Queensland, and newly emerging system strength issues in north Queensland.

In Queensland, two solar farms and one wind farm were told of system strength issues that would cause their output to be reduced significantly, or down to zero, depending on conditions, and then another nine solar farms were told the same thing as new modelling unveiled new problems.

In Queensland, the average constraint for wind and solar over the whole quarter was 49MW, up from 5MW in the same period last year. Ironically, the situation was worsened by increased outages at the state’s coal fired generators. New synchronous condensers may alleviate that issue.

Economic constraints – the decision by generators to “self-curtail” in the face of negative prices – meant that on average there was 50MW of curtailment of wind and solar farms through the September quarter. AEMO says 70 per cent of that curtailment occurred in daytime hours between 7am and 7pm.




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