Thursday, July 14, 2022

Coal Use, Especially In China, Is Poised To Wipe Out 17 Years Worth Of US Emissions Progress

Rising emissions from growing global coal use amidst the current energy crisis are eliminating emissions reductions achieved in the U.S. since the mid-2000s.

China and India are driving the increase in coal emissions, according to RealClear Energy. European countries, including Germany and The Netherlands, have also moved to produce more coal as other energy sources become scarce. (RELATED: GOP Senators Call Out Biden Nominee 's Rant About Bankrupting Fossil Fuel Industries)

China announced that it will increase coal output by 300 million tons this year in April. Last month, India also said it was looking to grow its domestic coal production by more than 400 million tons by the end of 2023, according to

China 's and India 's combined 700 million tons of coal output will result in an additional 1.4 billion tons of carbon dioxide emissions, as burning one ton of coal releases roughly two tons of carbon dioxide, according to the Energy Information Administration (EIA). The same volume of emission reductions that were achieved in the U.S. between 2005 and 2020 was nearly equal to this figure, according to statistics from BP.

Coal-based emissions are only likely to exponentially increase, as a sudden climb in coal use has swept across Europe following the significantly reduced supply of natural gas via the Russian Nord Stream Pipeline. As a response, Germany has brought back coal to sate its demand for fuel, the country 's Economy Minister Robert Habeck announced last week.

Italy, The Netherlands and Austria are also stepping up coal production to lower energy costs before the start of winter and lessen their reliance on Russian natural gas.

The added European coal emissions combined with the massive increases in China and India will exacerbate global emission totals and likely nullify any improvements made by the U.S. over the past 17 years.


The Silliness of Carbon Capture and Sequestration

Beltway nostrums are a dime a dozen, and the climate problem threat emergency crisis existential threat is tailor-made to elicit hundreds of them. An old one now receiving increasing attention is carbon capture and sequestration (CCS), a technology designed to capture greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions as they are produced as byproducts of such industrial processes as power generation, and then to sequester them underground in caverns or fossil-fuel reservoirs instead of releasing them into the atmosphere.

The basic argument usually promoted in favor of CCS subsidies begins with the observation that fossil fuels are here to stay regardless of the propaganda trumpeted by the environmental left about the “clean energy transition.” Unconventional energy is “clean” only if we ignore the attendant heavy metal pollution, wildlife destruction, noise, flicker effects, massive and unsightly land use, landfill problems, and on and on. And the argument that unconventional energy has become cost-competitive with fossil fuels is preposterous, which is why the former cannot survive in the market without massive subsidies, guaranteed market shares, and many other types of policy favoritism.

So far, so good: Fossil fuels indeed will supply the vast bulk of global energy needs over the long term precisely because the energy content of fossil fuels is concentrated, unlike the case for wind flows and sunlight, which is why wind and solar power require massive amounts of land. And they are unreliable — they have low “capacity factors” — and so require expensive backup capacity, longer transmission systems, and other costly investments. Accordingly, fossil fuels by far are the most efficient sources of needed energy notwithstanding the efforts of governments, international bureaucracies, and the environmental left to increase their costs artificially.

Step two in the CCS argument: Because fossil fuels are here to stay, we need to do something about GHG emissions because there is a climate crisis. The effects of increasing atmospheric concentrations of GHG are detectable in the data, but there is no actual evidence of a climate “crisis” in the data on sea levels, cyclones, droughts, flooding, and the other changing dimensions of climate phenomena, driven by both natural and anthropogenic influences with relative weights that are the subject of intense scientific debate. But put that aside. Whatever the evidence on climate phenomena, the proponents of CCS subsidies — and other climate policies — never quite tell us what temperature/climate impact, say, in 2100, would result from a large expansion of CCS technological implementation.

Let us make the wild assumption that a large CCS subsidy program would cut U.S. GHG emissions by half. If we apply the Environmental Protection Agency climate model and make assumptions that exaggerate the future effects of reductions in GHG emissions, that 50 percent cut would reduce global temperatures in 2100 by 0.087 degrees C. That would not be detectable: The standard deviation of the surface temperature record is 0.11 degrees C. Assume instead, again wildly, that an international CCS effort would reduce global GHG emissions by 25 percent. Temperatures in 2100: 0.343 degrees C lower than otherwise would be the case. How much are such outcomes worth?

The International Energy Agency estimates (Table 2.1) that achievement of the global GHG emissions requirements for the “Sustainable Development Scenario” (SDC) would require capture of 840 million metric tons of CO2 in 2030, 5.6 billion metric tons in 2050, and 10.4 billion metric tons in 2070. A generous estimate of the amount of GHG captured by a given facility annually is 1 million metric tons. Accordingly, the number of facilities needed for the IEA SDC rises from 840 to 10,400 over those four decades. At a capital cost of $500 million each, that is a total of $420 billion to $5.2 trillion over forty years, or about $10 billion to $130 billion per year. Precisely who is going to pony up that kind of cash?

The IEA total cost estimates for GHG capture using CCS technologies are around $50-120 per ton. Global GHG emissions are about 53 billion tons per year. Capture of merely 10 percent — less than the approximate advertised but not credible 15 percent Paris goal, and far less than the IEA SDC — at, say, the low-end figure of $50 per ton would cost about $265 billion per year. Is this supposed to be serious?

In short, there is no plausible benefit/cost test that would justify a large CCS effort. In the major climate-economy integrated assessment models (DICE and FUND in particular) a change in only one assumption — the choice of a discount rate that reflects the actual opportunity cost of capital — reduces the per-ton social cost of carbon to something close to zero, or even a negative number in some cases. In the DICE model and in the IPCC 1.5 Degree Report, global GDP in 2100 is lower by 3 percent and 2.6 percent, respectively, in the absence of policies to reduce GHG emissions. Those numbers almost certainly are not statistically significant, and would be swamped in any event by the increase in global per capita GDP — the IPCC projection is 400 percent — certain to occur between now and then.

The arguments in support of CCS subsidies assume that GHG emissions create a negative externality. That may be true, but it is very far from obvious, as there are important benefits from increasing GHG emissions, among them planetary greening, increased agricultural productivity, increased water use efficiency by plants, reduced mortality from cold, etc. Moreover, temperatures and other climate phenomena are driven by both natural and anthropogenic influences, the relative weights of which, again, are the subject of intense scientific debate. Because CCS and other climate policies cannot affect natural phenomena, it is very easy to make highly unrealistic assumptions about their efficacy.

Let us recognize that the current campaign to promote CCS subsidies is being driven in substantial part by old-fashioned rent-seeking rather than some sort of environmental/climate imperative, whatever the usefulness of the latter in terms of making excuses for the former. There also is the timeless but futile effort of corporate executives desperate to ingratiate themselves with the environmental left in the hope that the green alligators will eat them last. The executives’ basic assumption is that the environmental left is sincere in its pursuit of “solutions” to the climate “crisis,” and that therefore they will support some CCS projects politically. After all, they claim to support CCS if the GHG are simply pumped into underground storage facilities, even as they oppose CCS used to enhance oil recovery (by injecting carbon dioxide into oil reservoirs so as to increase reservoir pressures).

Well, no. The environmental left will never support the pipelines and other massive infrastructure investments needed to make CCS a reality precisely because the only reason to support CCS is as an adjunct to the production of fossil fuels, cement, modern agriculture outputs, and the like so as to reduce GHG emissions. The environmental left opposes all of that as a matter of ideological imperative — it simply opposes modern industrial society — and so it will never support CCS in practice because the central purpose of CCS is to allow modern industrial processes to continue.

That is a central intellectual problem with the argument in favor of CCS subsidies. The environmental left will not and cannot support any given CCS program as actually proposed because their opposition to modern industrial society is a matter of principle. They oppose fossil fuels because they allow billions of people to escape poverty, thus increasing resource consumption and environmental degradation. (The environmental left has never quite explained why wealthier societies are also cleaner.) They oppose technological advance — human ingenuity — as the long term answer to such problems because it is inconsistent with their stance that resource consumption is not “sustainable.” That term has no definition and is wrong in any event as markets are perfectly capable of allocating a finite (“depletable”) resource over time.

In the ideological view of the left, humans are not moral agents with the ingenuity and inventiveness to solve problems; instead they are little more than environmentally destructive mouths to feed. Accordingly, the ideological stance of the left is fundamentally anti-human in that investments in human capital — education, training, health care, etc. — have the effect of increasing the demand for fossil fuels, an outcome that is anathema.

It is not only businesses that engage in rent-seeking. Recall that for years the official “safe” limit for planetary warming was 2 degrees C by 2100. The 1979-2019 satellite record for the mid-troposphere is a warming of 0.17 degrees C per decade, or 1.7 degrees C over a century. So by the time the 2015 UNFCCC 21st Conference of the Parties (COP-21) was held in Paris, the climate industry realized that it had a real problem on its hands: Not that the planet was burning up, but instead that the 2 degree C “safe” limit was going to be achieved without any climate policies at all. This meant that it was not the planet threatened with conflagration but instead their sinecures, their taxpayer- and foundation-funded sojourns on private jets to conferences in five-star resorts, and their broad political interests generally. So at COP-21 they moved the goalpost: The new “safe” limit now is 1.5 degrees C. Science? What’s that?

Back to CCS: There is no argument in favor of subsidizing it that can withstand scrutiny. Will that actually affect Beltway policymaking? Let us pray.


Biggest Reason Why People Aren’t Buying Electric Cars Revealed in New Survey

A survey discovered that charging logistics is the primary reason why Americans aren’t buying electric vehicles.

Consumer Reports, which said it surveyed around 8,000 Americans, found that 61 percent said they wouldn’t seek to own an electric vehicle because of charging logistics while 55 percent cited the number of miles a vehicle can go per charge. Another 52 percent said that the costs of buying and maintaining an electric vehicle are cost-prohibitive.

Another 46 percent of the respondents stated they have not heard of any financial incentives available for owners of electric vehicles.

“We found that 14 percent of American drivers say they would ‘definitely’ buy or lease an electric-only vehicle if they were to buy a vehicle today,” said Consumer Reports. “That’s up markedly from the 4 percent who said the same in a 2020 nationally representative survey from CR of 3,392 licensed U.S. drivers.”

According to recent figures from Kelly Blue Book, the average price of a new electric vehicle hovered at roughly $56,000. In contrast, the average price of a new compact was about $25,000 at about the same time. The average price of a new, non-electric SUV was $34,000, while the electric version was nearly $45,000.

Meanwhile, a recent report from data analysis and advisory firm J.D. Power, however, found that electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids may have more problems than internal combustion engines.

While internal combustion engine vehicles averaged 175 problems per 100 vehicles, this jumped to 239 among plug-in hybrids and 240 among electric vehicles, a June 28 press release of the J.D. Power 2022 U.S. Initial Quality Study stated. Lower scores represented higher-quality vehicles.

Tesla models, which were included in the industry calculation for the first time, averaged 226 problems per 100 vehicles, according to the report.

“Automakers continue to launch vehicles that are more and more technologically complex in an era in which there have been many shortages of critical components to support them,” David Amodeo, director of global automotive at J.D. Power, according to the press release.

Amid elevated gas prices, White House officials have continued to suggest that Americans buy an electric car as Republicans have faulted the Biden administration’s policies for the spike in prices.

In mid-June, Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm suggested that Americans can deal with $5 per gallon of gasoline by ditching an internal combustion engine in favor of an electric one.

“If you filled up your EV [electric vehicle] and you filled up your gas tank with gasoline, you would save $60 per fill-up by going electric rather than using gasoline, but it’s a very compelling case,” she said in a clip circulated by Republicans on social media on June 14. “But again, we want to bring down the price at the point of purchase.”


Fires in EVs Require 10x More Water to Put Out, Up to 10,000 Gallons

As electric vehicles continue to be pushed on the nation by the Biden administration, certain facts are coming to light about them, and this time we are hearing warnings from the nation’s firefighters.

As the number of electric car owners grows, so too are the problems peculiar to EV ownership. From lack of charging stations, to unexpected expenses for repairs and now to water waste.

You read that right. Water waste.

According to News Nation firemen are warning that electric car fires are far more problematic than fires that engulf gas-powered vehicles.

Lt. Tanner Morgan with the Grand Prairie Fire Department near Dallas told News Nation that fire departments are not exactly ready to deal with EVs.

“We’re at that critical point where the consumer-driven world we live in is pushing these vehicles out and the fire department is playing catch up,” he said.

Lt. Morgan went on to say that a gas-powered car typically takes less than 1,000 gallons of water to douse it when it catches on fire. But EVs are a bigger problem, he said. When an electric vehicle catches on fire, firemen are faced with a “thermal runaway.”

Morgan added that the lithium-ion batteries in an EV fuel a fire to a much higher degree than gasoline. And firefighters are having to learn that they need different tactics to fight an EV fire.

Fremont Fire Department Battalion Chief Gary Ashley said, “The protocol is to start using copious amounts of water, up to 3,000 gallons, so that’s what we started doing.”

Unfortunately, 3,000 gallons wasn’t enough for a recent EV fire in Sacramento. News Nation reported that firefighters on that case didn’t start getting the fire under control until 4,500 gallons were sprayed onto the flames. Authorities said that even when firefighters sprayed water directly on the battery compartment, the fire kept reigniting.

Even Tesla warned about the huge amount of water needed to douse an EV fire.

“Tesla’s own emergency response guide for the Model S warns that battery fires can require between 3,000 to 8,000 gallons of water to fully extinguish the flames,” News Nations wrote. So, obviously, 10,000 gallons is not out of the question.

Officials are also warning rural fire departments — in areas where fire hydrants are not available — could face very dangerous conditions with EV fires, especially when many fire trucks cannot hold that much water.

“In rural areas, especially on interstates where there are no hydrants, this is going to create a logistical issue for emergency response agencies as they’re going to have to shuttle the water up that they need,” the National Volunteer Fire Council’s Tom Miller said.

Still, some advocates say EV fires are far less common than fires in other types of vehicles.

News Nation added that AutoInsuranceEZ finds that there were only 25 EV fires for every 100,000 electric vehicles sold. But there are more than 1,500 fires per 100,000 gas-powered vehicles sold.

Fires, of course, are only one heightened issue that electric vehicle owners are faced with. There are many new issues that car owners did not expect when becoming an EV owner.

President Joe Biden and his administration sell EVs as the miracle cure to the woes of rising gas prices. But what the administration doesn’t note is that EVs have issues of their own.

There are much higher vehicle registration fees — sometimes two and three times higher. And speaking of taxes, many states are considering per-mile taxes for EVs. And then there are the plans to place surcharges on homes with EV charging stations.

Then there is the problem with finding parts and service. Car dealers may be selling more EVs, but their service departments are not staffed with the needed number of trained mechanics and service personnel, nor do they have the needed stockpile of parts in stock to fix what has broken.




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