Friday, June 24, 2022

‘Wrong decision’: Germany to defy EU plan to ban petrol cars by 2035

Germany could defy the European Union’s effective ban on the sale of new petrol and diesel cars by 2035, in a move aimed at protecting hundreds of thousands of jobs in its world-leading car manufacturing sector.

Just days after Berlin announced it would fire up mothballed coal-fired power stations next northern winter as Russian cuts to gas exports threaten shortfalls, Finance Minister Christian Lindner said completely phasing out the combustion engine in Europe was “the wrong decision” because manufacturers elsewhere in the world, such as China, would fill the gap.

As part of the European Union’s plan to cut greenhouse emissions by 55 per cent by 2030 from 1990 levels, it has proposed a 100 per cent reduction in emissions from new cars by 2035, a mandate that would make it impossible to sell new petrol or diesel vehicles.

Lindner, a member of the business-friendly Free Democratic party within the coalition government, told a conference on Tuesday evening AEST: “Germany is not going to agree to a ban on combustion engines.”

Speaking at a conference hosted by Germany’s BDI industry association, Lindner said there would continue to be niche demand for combustion engines and the German government – where his party shares power with the Social Democrats and Greens - would not agree to the European legislation.

He said Germany would still be a leading market for electric vehicles.

Eighteen of the world’s 100 top automotive carmakers – including Audi, BMW, Mercedes-Benz and Volkswagen - are German. More than 4.6 million passenger cars and 283,567 commercial vehicles were manufactured by the country’s plants in 2019, before the coronavirus outbreak. The broader sector employs about 750,000 people.

Production of electric cars in Germany rose by 86 per cent in 2021, while combustion engines were down 23 per cent.

Several companies have already agreed to phase out combustion engines, with Volkswagen boss Ralf Brandstatter saying recently the shift to electrification was “irreversible”. Mercedes has already pledged to be all-electric by 2030, “where market conditions allow”.

The war in Ukraine and pressure to transition away from Russian gas has thrown the German economy into chaos, with the International Monetary Fund this week warnings its energy woes were a serious threat to Europe’s largest economy.

Adding to tensions within the German coalition, a spokesman for Environment Minister Steffi Lemke, from the Green alliance, said the government “fully supports the proposal by the Commission and the European Parliament to allow new passenger cars and light commercial vehicles only with zero-emission powertrains from 2035”.

The European Parliament signed off on the 2035 zero emissions mandate earlier this month. The European Council is due to make a final call at a meeting of EU climate and environment ministers on June 28.

The leader of Italy’s far-right Lega party, Matteo Salvini, referred to the decision at the time as “madness” calling it a “gift to China, a disaster for millions of Italians and Europeans”.

Italy is pushing to obtain an exception for carmakers like Ferrari, Bugatti and Lamborghini from the ban.


Biden Abuses Executive Authority to Pursue His Environmental Agenda

Plagued by inflation, a projected upcoming Republican wave in the midterm elections, and high gas prices, President Joe Biden is desperately seeking a win on clean energy.

To achieve that win, he has authorized the inappropriate use of the Defense Production Act— an egregious misuse of executive power.

Last Monday, Biden announced that he authorized use of the Defense Production Act to speed up the domestic production of clean energy technologies—like solar panels and heat pumps— for use in buildings.

The Defense Production Act gives the president a broad set of authorities to influence domestic industry in the interest of national defense. Since it was passed at the start of the Korean War, the act has served as a valuable federal statute to ensure that, when called upon, the domestic industrial base is capable of providing essential materials and goods needed for the national defense.

Over the years, Congress broadened “national defense” to include national emergencies, like pandemics, terrorist attacks, and natural disasters. Biden’s latest actions, however, strain the definition of national defense past the point of credulity. He has authorized the act to serve his political goals—in this case, a radical environmental agenda.

Last year, Biden’s $2.2 trillion Build Back Better bill, which included billions in clean energy programs, failed to pass in Congress. Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., who killed Biden’s landmark legislation, stated that part of his opposition to the bill was due to its climate and clean energy provisions, saying they “risk the reliability of our electric grid and increase our dependence on foreign supply chains.”

In this latest executive action, Biden has ignored Manchin’s objections and decided to pursue his agenda without the approval of Congress.

Biden’s misuse of Defense Production Act allocated funds is nothing new. For example, the Obama administration’s 2012 invocation of the Defense Production Act to advance the production of biofuel was packaged as providing energy security for America’s warfighters. However, it soon became clear that the flawed project had nothing to do with national defense, and everything to do with a radical and expensive (the Biofuel Production Project was allotted $230.5 million) environmental agenda.

Now, in a similar initiative, Biden has authorized the Department of Energy to use the Defense Production Act “to strengthen the resiliency of the nation’s supply chain” for solar, transformers and electric grid components, heat pumps, insulation, electrolyzers, fuel cells, and platinum group metals.

The administration has failed to justify how solar panels could meaningfully contribute to the national defense, even under an expanded definition of national defense.

According to Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm, “For too long the nation’s clean energy supply chain has been over-reliant on foreign sources and adversarial nations.” Likewise, according to the deputy defense secretary, Kathleen Hicks, “reducing America’s dependence on gas and oil is critical to U.S. national security.”

OK—so the policy is go green by investing in domestic solar manufacturing and we will become more energy independent and less reliant on foreign adversaries.

So, does a transition from oil and gas to solar panels make us less reliant on foreign sources and adversarial nations, thereby strengthening our national security?

The answer is simple: No!

This is plainly obvious by the administration’s decision to, in tandem with the Defense Production Act authorization to stimulate solar panel manufacturing, potentially make it easier for solar companies in the U.S. to import cheaper Chinese-made solar parts from Southeast Asia.

Biden’s two-year halt on new solar tariffs will allow domestic project developers to continue using foreign-made equipment while U.S. manufacturing presumably ramps up using taxpayer funds through the Defense Production Act.

Americans benefit from being able to access the most competitive technologies to meet their energy needs. But the president’s supposed national security reasoning is just a red herring to manipulate energy markets to his preferred technology. According to his order, we will simply be shifting our foreign reliance on energy from global oil markets to Asian solar components, while ignoring that solar energy is not a perfect replacement for oil in meeting peoples’ energy needs.

Thus, on the false pretense that clean energy strengthens national security by decreasing our reliance on foreign sources and adversarial nations, the Biden administration misused its authority with the Defense Production Act, and the U.S. is still reliant on foreign sources and a new adversarial nation—China.

So, this is bad energy policy, terrible trade policy, and even worse defense policy given that we will now be more dependent on China, which Secretary of State Anthony Blinken just called the “most serious long-term threat” to the world order.

Biden’s misuse of the Defense Production Act is all the more frustrating in light of the real, urgent national security needs the act could be used to address.

U.S. munitions stocks are being depleted as Javelin and Stinger missiles are being sent to Ukraine, and industry says it will take years to manufacture enough to replenish those stocks. The Defense Production Act could force industry to prioritize those contracts and could provide funds to increase manufacturing capacity.

Instead, in choosing to pursue environmental pet projects, this administration is demonstrating a lack of seriousness about our national defense—at a time when the country cannot afford to be anything but serious.


Paper co-authored by UAH’s Dr. Christy on climate model warming bias is a top 10 download

A research paper finding a significant global warming bias in climate models that was co-authored by the interim vice president for research and economic development at the University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH) has been cited by John Wiley & Sons Inc. as a top 10 download over the past 12 months in the American Geophysical Union (AGU) Earth and Space Science journal.

The paper was previously cited in 2021 as among the 10% most downloaded from the AGU journal in 2020.

“So, what drives the interest here is the incessant drumbeat of climate doom and gloom based on model forecasts, and the corresponding political reactions that create for us challenges like $100 per fill-up and attendant price increases – and some scarcity – for everything else,” says Dr. John Christy, who is also a distinguished professor of atmospheric science, Alabama’s state climatologist and the director of the Earth System Science Center (ESSC) at UAH, a part of the University of Alabama System. “When an issue hits people squarely in the pocketbook, it becomes important.”

“Pervasive Warming Bias in CMIP6 Tropospheric Layers” was co-authored by Dr. Ross McKitrick, an econometrician at the University of Guelph in Guelph, Ontario, Canada.

“With the ubiquitous and dramatic claims regarding the climate change issue all around us, it was a simple idea that Ross and I had: let’s test some of those claims that are based on models,” Dr. Christy says. “In particular was this simple scientific question: How well do the climate models on which these scary claims are based actually perform in the real world?”

The scientists examined and updated historical data focusing on 1979-2014 from the newest Coupled Model Intercomparison Project Version 6 (CMIP6) climate model and found that what previously were excessive warming rates modeled only in the tropical troposphere are now being excessively modeled globally. All of their model runs warmed faster than observations in the lower troposphere and mid-troposphere, both in the tropics and globally.

They found that the temperature of the bulk atmosphere, as measured by satellites, is an ideal characteristic to monitor for the detection of climate change. As part of an ongoing joint project between UAH, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and NASA, Dr. Christy with ESSC principal research scientist Dr. Roy Spencer publish a monthly Global Temperature Report that uses data gathered by advanced microwave sounding units on NOAA, NASA and European satellites to produce temperature readings for almost all regions of the Earth.

“We tested the ability of climate models to reproduce what the real world has already experienced using a variable – the bulk atmospheric temperature – that is a basic metric of the climate system,” Dr. Christy says. “All models heated up the atmosphere much faster on average than did Mother Nature over the past 40-plus years.”

He says that the models, which are simply theoretical hypotheses that need testing, failed a significant test of their ability to represent the way the real world works.

“This tells us we shouldn’t have much confidence in their forecasts, since they weren’t able to characterize the past 40 years correctly,” Dr. Christy says.

A separate test indicates that the disparity still exists, Dr. Christy says.

“We actually ran the test through 2021 a little later and achieved the same result.”


Australia: State picks fossil fuel over energy storage

Is there no such thing as an intelligent journalist left? OF COURSE nobody much is investing in energy storage. Either it is useful only for a few hours (batteries) or its costs are astronomical (pumped hydro). Coal, gas and nuclear are the only reliable power sources. All the rest is fantasy

The Queensland government has prioritised coal and gas-fired generation over energy storage

Twice as many taxpayer dollars will be spent on Queensland coal and gas-fired plants this year as they will on installing new renewable energy storage in the state.

Queensland already has the nation's highest wholesale electricity prices, which experts say is mostly due to its reliance on fossil fuel and lack of energy storage.

Household electricity bills will rise by 10 per cent, while power bills for businesses will soar 20 per cent from July.

Treasurer Cameron Dick will partly offset that by wiping $14.58 off household monthly bills for the next 12 months.

However, businesses won't get any support and will likely pass on their extra costs to consumers.

Over the long term, the state government will need to transition to renewable energy sooner if it wants to spare consumers further price pain.

Vast renewable generation projects are under construction, but the state needs about 6.5 gigawatts of energy storage as well.

Mr Dick promised $35 million in funding for a feasibility study on a 5-7GW pumped hydropower storage project in Tuesday's budget.

Another $13 million will be spent on finalising a study for a proposed 1GW pumped hydro project near Gympie.

However, the three public electricity generators will also spend $480 million with the majority of that propping up ageing coal and gas generation, rather than storage.

Stanwell Corporation, CS Energy and CleanCo will spend about $232.7 million on maintenance, upgrades and spare parts for coal and gas plants in 2022/23.

Stanwell will pour $21 million into the Meandu coal mine and CS Energy will invest $1.2 million on the Kogan Creek coal mine.

CleanCo - originally set up to be a renewable energy firm - will spend $13.6 million on the Kogan North Gas Field, which it jointly owns with Arrow Energy.

The big investment in fossil fuel generation comes with the government expecting to bank dividends from the generators in 2022/23, and for those to rise in 2023/24.

"This trend reflects earnings growth of these businesses, with the current wholesale market environment supporting returns in the next couple of years, and a return to more stable levels over the forward estimates," the budget said.

Meanwhile, the three generators will invest less than half the amount they spend on fossil fuel generation than they will on increasing renewable energy storage capacity.

About $122.5 million will be spent on two batteries at Chinchilla and on the Darling Downs, which will eventually be able to store about 500MW, in 2022/23.

Queensland will need about 14 times more storage than that to transition to renewable energy and phase out coal generation.

The three generators are also investing about $85.1 million in the Wambo and Karara wind farms, which will eventually generate 353MW of electricity.

In total, the state government will invest $281.8 million on renewable energy and $232.7 million on fossil fuel generation in 2022/23.




No comments: