Wednesday, August 31, 2022

Country Hailed as 'First Major Renewable Energy Economy' Is Now Collapsing Into Power Poverty

It’s beginning to look like Germany put too many eggs in the renewable energy basket.

For years now, progressives have praised the European country for paving the way forward on renewable energy. With the fourth largest economy in the world, Germany has had 100 percent of its energy output covered by renewables for years now, according to Clean Energy Wire.

Renewable Energy World praised the country over a decade ago for being “the world’s first major renewable energy economy.”

Because of this overreliance on renewables, energy prices have skyrocketed. Thanks to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the price of natural gas is spiking, leaving European nations with no cheap alternatives. Power prices in Germany have reached record levels, forcing the German government to increase the annual cost of household gas bills by nearly 500 euros, Reuters reported.

“The alternative would have been the collapse of the German energy market and, with it, large parts of the European energy market,” German Economy Minister Robert Habeck said, according to Foreign Policy Magazine.

The country has since taken up a number of energy-saving measures. For instance, the government has shut off spotlights by monuments in the capital city of Berlin, and people have taken to stocking up on wood for the upcoming winter.

If the country had instead invested in nuclear power, a clean yet reliable alternative to renewables like wind and solar, perhaps this crisis wouldn’t be as severe.

Sadly, the country opted to phase out all of its nuclear power plants. In July, Reuters reported the many reasons for this decision — none of which really made any sense if you realize how great of an energy alternative nuclear power is.

“A first assessment by the environment and economy ministries in March did not recommend extending the plants’ lifetime, citing legal, licensing and insurance challenges, the need for extensive and possibly costly safety checks and a lack of fuel rods to keep the plants running,” Reuters reported.

Author and journalist Michael Shellenberger used to be a big fan of renewables until he learned more about their actual cost. Speaking with The Wall Street Journal on Aug. 8, Shellenberger revealed why Germany and the rest of green energy Europe, for that matter, were headed for disaster.

According to Shellenberger, the world is currently in a crisis of too many renewables.

“Germany had too much renewables. Its electricity is now the most expensive in Europe, and it became dependent on Russia for reliable fuels, mostly natural gas, because it depended so much on these weather-dependent renewables,” Shellenberger told the Journal.

In his view, Europe isn’t the only country in danger of facing this crisis.

As politicians in the Democratic Party continue to demand a transformation of the American energy economy, this threat becomes more likely to hit the states.

“In the Western parts of the United States first, but now increasingly in the Midwest of the United States, we’re running into potential electricity shortages,” Shellenberger said. “That’s been a consequence of becoming overly reliant on weather-dependent renewables, namely solar panels and wind turbines.”

It’s quite telling how the climate change extremists across the world have gotten us into this predicament.

If the goal really was to reduce carbon emissions, nuclear power would be at the forefront of energy alternatives. Even natural gas would be pushed much harder. But, many of the most ardent climate change alarmists oppose both options.

Then again, what else would one expect from the left? They’ve never cared about facts before.


Want to Understand the Basics of Global Warming? Just Follow Al Gore's Money

P.T. Barnum might not have said there is a sucker born every minute. But, if he didn’t, he should have, because it is true.

In the Southwestern U.S. in the late 1800s, snake oil salesmen traveled from town to town in buckboard wagons, peddling snake oil. Now they travel around in private jets to world financial centers, trading carbon.

If one Googles the term “snake oil salesman,” the following appears in the Wikipedia definition: “‘Snake oil salesman’ is a common expression used to describe someone who sells, promotes, or is a general proponent of some valueless or fraudulent cure, remedy, or solution. … In popular culture, a particular kind of confidence trick is associated with the snake-oil salesman – the traveling salesman purports to be a doctor (with false credentials), selling fake medicines with boisterous marketing hype, often supported by pseudo-scientific evidence [emphasis added].”

The Kyoto Protocol was a “climate treaty” ratified by UN climate delegates in December 1997. It became effective in February 2005 for the 36 countries that signed the protocol.

Vice President Albert Gore was a leading proponent of the Kyoto Protocol and signed it on behalf of the U.S. However, President Bill Clinton elected not to submit the climate treaty to the Senate for ratification because the Senate had voted unanimously to oppose the treaty’s ratification. The Senate opposed the treaty because it did not require developing countries to abide by the same standards as developed nations.

The treaty was designed to reduce emissions of seven greenhouse gases; however, the main focus was reducing CO2. The treaty was effective from 2005 to 2012. During that time, worldwide emissions of CO2 increased by 32 percent.

While the Kyoto Protocol did not introduce any new scientific concepts to reduce emissions of CO2, it did introduce a novel economic concept: trading carbon credits and, later, trading carbon offsets.

The idea of trading carbon credits or offsets is based on the fact that living plant matter and the world’s oceans absorb CO2 and are known as “carbon sinks.”

Plant matter absorbs CO2 and emits oxygen in a process called photosynthesis. It is necessary for all human, animal and plant life (including agriculture) on Earth. The world’s oceans absorb and emit CO2 as part of the natural process referred to as the carbon cycle, which includes photosynthesis. Very little is known about the world’s carbon cycle; too many variables are involved, and there is a lack of methodology to measure them.

This is how the “trading scheme” (as the UN calls it) for carbon credits and offsets works.

A UN climate treaty such as the Kyoto Protocol establishes an allocation of carbon credits for a country based on an emission target for a period of time. The carbon emitters in the country are given a target by the government. If the emitters exceed their target, they can buy unused credits from the government, other emitters who don’t use their full allocation or from carbon traders.

There are three main groups of carbon offsets: a removal unit (RMU), an emission reduction unit (ERU) and a certified emission reduction (CER) unit.

An RMU results from land use that primarily affects forestation, such as planting trees or agreeing not to cut down trees, but can also include planting crops or other plant matter. An ERU is acquired by a “joint implementation project” involving two developed countries. If a developed country expects to exceed its emission target, it can invest in a project in another developed nation to reduce carbon emissions. Finally, a CER unit results from an investment by a developed country in a developing country that either reduces or eliminates the emission of CO2.

It should be apparent that the opportunity for fraud in the certification of each of these activities is significant.

So why are trading carbon credits and offsets like selling snake oil?

In my book, I demonstrate that the first principles of science in the relevant fields of thermodynamics, spectroscopy, atmospheric physics and quantum mechanics, as employed in published, peer-reviewed scientific research, prove that CO2 has a de minimis effect on the Earth’s climate.

Further, the world’s temperature databases reveal virtually no warming of the lower troposphere (first 8 km of the atmosphere), the world’s oceans or land mass. Therefore, there is no need to remove CO2 from the atmosphere.

Just like the snake oil salesman of the old West, the new snake oil salesmen use the fraudulent pseudoscience of the global warming hypothesis to sell carbon credits and offsets — in this case, to cure an ailment that does not exist.

Finally, the new snake oil salesmen employ the same sales tactics as their predecessors: Convince people that if they buy their snake oil, they will be doing good — in this case, reducing CO2 concentration in the atmosphere.


Lights out for Britain's industrial heartlands: The UK's army of small manufacturers face being pushed to the precipice this autumn as energy bills soar

When the Governor of the Bank of England paid a visit to firms in East Anglia this summer, the boss of a local scrap metal firm didn’t mince his words.

David Dodds, managing director of Ipswich-based Sackers, told Andrew Bailey that his company is facing a cliff-edge this autumn due to soaring energy costs.

‘We had him in our boardroom for two hours,’ Dodds says. ‘We hope we gave him a useful insight into the challenges we face as a company operating in the UK and internationally.’

That is a polite way of saying he made no bones with Bailey – who has been widely criticised for his failure to tackle rising prices – about the grim reality facing Sackers and many other firms.

Sackers has been in business for nearly 100 years and has survived the Second World War, the economic travails of the 1970s, and numerous economic downturns.

But, even for the most seasoned and resilient businessmen and women, this energy crisis is daunting.

Bills have already spiralled upwards alarmingly and, unlike households, there is no cap.

Large numbers of firms, including Sackers, are on fixed contracts that are due to end in October, at which point they will face huge hikes.

‘We’re now paying £120,000 a month for electricity. That bill has gone up 171 per cent in less than a year,’ says Dodds. ‘We’re planning on it going up by another 60 per cent per annum when we renew in October.’


EV chargers to be deployed on power poles

Not exactly a great leap forward. Note that it takes a whole hour to get enough charge to drive 50km

A local tech company has won a grant to deploy 50 electric vehicle chargers on streetside power poles, overcoming one of the key obstacles to widespread EV adoption.

The scheme is similar to others that have been rolled out across Europe, the United States and Canada in the past three years. London has more than 1000 public lamp post chargers, ranging in capacity from 3kW to 50kW.

The Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) – set up to fund investment in EV infrastructure – has awarded Intellihub $871,000 to install the 7.4kW chargers, which can add roughly 50km of charge every hour.

The company will install EV chargers on power poles across nine local government areas in New South Wales, connected directly to the overhead electricity supply.




Tuesday, August 30, 2022

Greenland ice melting is INEVITABLE because of climate change and will cause sea levels to rise 10 inches

Just another prophecy. Extrapolating to the long term from just two decades of data is mindless

The melting of the Greenland Ice Sheet will cause global sea levels to rise by more than 10 inches (27cm) – even if the whole world stops burning fossil fuels today, a new study has warned.

Researchers from the National Geological Survey of Denmark and Greenland (GEUS) studied two decades worth of measurements to predict the minimum ice loss from the Greenland Ice Sheet from climate warming so far.

Their findings suggest that, under the best possible situation, the Greenland Ice Sheet will lose about 110 trillion tonnes of ice.

'In the foreseeable scenario that global warming will only continue, the contribution of the Greenland Ice Sheet to sea level rise will only continue increasing,' said Professor Jason Box, lead author of the study.

'When we take the extreme melt year 2012 and take it as a hypothetical average constant climate later this century, the committed mass loss from the Greenland Ice Sheet more than doubles to 78 cm [30 inches].'

What time frame are we looking at?

While previous studies estimated sea level rise with climate models, this is the first time that researchers have made estimations based on measurements.

Unfortunately, the downside to this method is that it does not give a timeframe.

'In order to get the figure that we have, we had to let go of the time factor in the calculation,' Professor Box added.

'But our observations suggest that most of the committed sea level rise will occur this century.'


Closure of coal power station set to be delayed to prevent UK blackouts

The effort to prevent electricity blackouts this winter is expected to delay the closure of part of a coal-fired power station in Nottinghamshire, with the plant’s German owner nearing agreement with the UK authorities.

In the third in a series of deals to have more coal power on standby if needed, National Grid’s electricity system operator (NGESO) is working towards finalising an agreement with Uniper to keep all of the operations at the Ratcliffe-on-Soar site open through the winter.

In May, the business secretary, Kwasi Kwarteng, wrote to NGESO asking executives to work with Uniper and fellow owners of coal-power stations Drax and EDF to slow their closure plans after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine shook the energy markets.

Uniper had been due to decommission one of its 500-megawatt units at the Nottinghamshire plant at the end of September, two years before closing the remaining three units at the site.

Under the deal, NGESO is expected to pay the company a fee to delay the decommissioning so all three units can be called on if needed. Uniper will also be compensated for costs incurred, including coal purchases, with any additional charges eventually being fed through to consumers’ energy bills.

The UK government has committed to ending the use of coal power in Great Britain by October 2024, a year earlier than originally planned. But that target is now at risk as ministers and power operators race to ensure security of supply.


Democrats Obstruct Their Electric Vehicle Push With Surprising Tax Credit Requirements

The federal government’s electric vehicle (EV) transition is in full swing, and Democrats have hyped the recent passage of the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) as an accelerant to that evolution.

Further, gas prices’ continual pounding of consumers at the pump has spurred EV interest to rise to 36 percent, according to a 2022 Consumer Reports survey. That may not sound like much, but it’s a significant increase from the 2020 report, when EV interest was at 4 percent.

Still, one of the hurdles to increased EV adoption is price. On July 12, Kelley Blue Book reported that the average cost of an EV was more than $66,000, while the price for an average gas-powered vehicle was $43,942—a $22,000 difference.

To help allay concerns about price toward increasing adoption, Democrats proposed an expansion of EV tax credits in the IRA; the credits took effect on Aug. 16. However, since the IRA was enacted, some experts are pointing out that the new credits exclude lower-priced EVs and could phase out entirely in 2023.

Indeed, economically priced EVs from Toyota and Hyundai are now ineligible for EV tax credits, while Audi’s Q5 PHEV (plug-in hybrid EV) and BMW’s 330e qualify for up to $7,500—for now.

Why? Democrats tied the EV credits to an “assembled in North America” requirement, and, in 2023, that includes the battery.

Assembled in North America

Before the IRA went into effect, there were approximately 72 EVs eligible for a tax credit, according to the Alliance for Automotive Innovation industry trade group.

Now, just 16 model year 2022 personal vehicles qualify for the federal tax credit, and only three 2023 models are eligible, according to the Department of Energy. If you’re looking for a commercial vehicle, two 2022 vehicles qualify.

The average manufacturer’s suggested retail price is $54,897 for the 2022 qualifying base models. That price doesn’t include taxes, fees, or other extra charges, trade-ins, or discounts.

Further, only two base models on the list are below $36,000, five are between $43,000 and $47,650, and the remaining nine are between $51,000 and $87,400.


The plague of the green elephants

Viv Forbes

Legend says that if you displeased the King of Siam, he would give you a white elephant. These rare and protected elephants were incredibly expensive to keep. So a ‘White Elephant’ came to mean a possession that is useless, troublesome, expensive to maintain, and difficult to dispose of – like a Sacred Cow, but much bigger.

Today the deluded rulers of the Western world are gifting us and future generations with plagues of Green Elephants – useless, expensive, and protected green rubbish.

The biggest green elephants in Australia are the five desalination plants built hurriedly around the same time climate catastrophist Tim Flannery forecast that burning hydrocarbons would create perpetual drought.

Climate botherers forgot about La Niña, with its cycles of rain and floods for Australia. These complex and expensive de-sal plants have largely sat idle.

The sun powers the greatest desalination plant on earth, all for free. If we had spent all that desalination money on dams we could have moderated La Niña flood damage, insulated against El Niño droughts, and provided naturally desalinated water for many towns and industries.

Australia was also conned into a war on hydrocarbons by American climate catastrophist, Al Gore, and his animated cartoon. This generated another epidemic of Green Elephants – solar panels, wind turbines, and spiderwebs of power lines that squander capital, uglify our landscapes, and destroy grasslands, forests, and bird life, as well as dismantling our once-cheap and reliable electricity supply. Future generations will be faced with the removal and disposal of these Green Monuments to Stupidity.

Another Green Elephant is being suckled in the Snowy Mountains – Snowy 2 Pumped Hydro. Its plant and transmission lines will cost $10 billion. More huge batteries are required to ‘solve’ the chronic intermittency of wind/solar energy.

More Green Elephants are being planned by hydrogen speculators. These net consumers of energy will guzzle huge quantities of fresh water to produce a dangerous explosive gas that cannot be used by motorists or industry without much research and new infrastructure. Some even dream of exporting our precious fresh water via hydrogen (nine tonnes of water for every tonne of hydrogen).

Perhaps the world’s biggest Green Elephant is being bred in Australia’s Northern Territory. This green folly would connect the world’s biggest collection of solar ‘farms’, wind turbines, and batteries to Singapore via the world’s longest under-sea extension cord across a deep submarine trench that is subject to many earthquakes, tsunamis, and volcanic eruptions.

These disastrous Green adventures are driven by the UN Billionaires’ club and promoted endlessly by government media and education bureaucracies, and vocal vested interests.

This plague of Green Elephants will destroy our industries, our farms, and our access to cheap reliable fuels and electricity.

It is time for a Green Elephant Hunt




Monday, August 29, 2022

The Koonin Dessler debate

The debate I announced here between Steve Koonin and Andy Dessler took place Monday August 15th, it was very educational and illuminating. I will try and write more about it in a few days.

In short Andy Dessler said that economic models suggest that climate change is a negative for human civilization and not positive at all. But he avoided putting any numbers to this assertion.

Dessler believes that wind and solar produce electricity cheaper than fossil fuels, and that they can provide most of our power. Koonin counters that the only reason wind and solar are cheaper is that the cost of fossil fuel backup and the required changes to the U.S. grid are not included in the solar and wind costs. Koonin shows an estimate of $2.4 trillion to upgrade our electric grid to work with mostly wind and solar.

Koonin stated that the costs of climate change are minimal, and in 100 years will not be noticeable because the world economy will grow so much in that time. Climate change, even in the worse scenarios, only reduces growth very slightly, by 4% or less, and everyone will still be better off. He notes that in the past global warming and climate change have benefited mankind since people are much better off today and much more resilient to climate change than 100 years ago. He also points out that the poor of today should not be made to suffer because the elites (that is the U.S. and the western world) believe, without evidence and only based on models, that fossil fuels are polluting. He adds that solar and wind are not pollution free.

Koonin quotes U.S. economist Anthony Downes, who once said:

“The elite’s environmental deterioration is often the common man’s improved standard of living.”

At the end of this very interesting Oxford-style debate in the New York Sheen Center, these were the results:

image from

Obviously Koonin won, the swing was 25% in his favor. Let us hope that these results are not changed online like they were in the last big climate change debate.


Talk about corporate welfare: Federal giveaways to wind, solar sectors are about to explode

The hype around the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022, also known as the Manchin-Schumer bill, has been extraordinary. On Aug. 8, New York Times opinion columnist Paul Krugman published a piece headlined “Did Democrats Just Save Civilization?” in which he declared that “experts on energy and the environment are giddy over what has been accomplished” and the “world is a more hopeful place than it was just a few weeks ago.”

Five former Treasury secretaries declared that the measure will “help increase American competitiveness, address our climate crisis, lower costs for families, and fight inflation.” Meanwhile, Leah Stokes, an associate professor of political science at the University of California, Santa Barbara, claims the bill will “create manufacturing all across this country.”

Amid all the hosannas, precious little media attention has focused on exactly how the $370 billion in energy-related spending will be divvied up. But a look at the numbers published on Aug. 5 by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) shows that this bill is not the vaunted “silver buckshot” that activists say will save us from catastrophic climate change. Instead, Manchin-Schumer is a 20 carat-gold blunderbuss that rewards, well, everybody. Electric vehicles (EVs), “climate justice,” hydrogen, carbon capture — a total of 68 energy- or climate-related line items are listed in the CBO report — and, yes, I counted them.

The handouts in the bill show, once again, the power of the NGO-industrial-corporate-Congress-media complex. But the CBO report also makes it abundantly clear that the cost to taxpayers of the federal handouts to the wind and solar sectors are about to absolutely explode.

According to the CBO, Big Wind and Big Solar could collect as much as $126.9 billion in new federal tax credits between now and 2031. If that occurs, the total cost of federal giveaways for wind and solar will more than double — and could total nearly $240 billion by 2031.

Before diving into the particulars in the CBO report, let’s back up to recall what the latest Treasury Department data on tax expenditures (published last December) reveal about existing energy-related tax breaks. The Treasury numbers show that between 2022 and 2031, the tax credits for solar and wind will cost the federal treasury $112.9 billion. The investment tax credit (ITC), used by the solar industry, will cost federal taxpayers about $60 billion. The production tax credit (PTC), which expired at the beginning of this year and is used by the wind industry, will cost nearly $52.9 billion. For comparison, the oil and gas sector will get about $29 billion in tax credits and the nuclear sector will get a paltry $3.4 billion.

The 35-page CBO report on Manchin-Schumer contains dozens of line items. It includes estimated outlays on numerous programs, including subsidies under the Affordable Care Act and Medicare. But the big costs in the bill are spelled out in the sections pertaining to energy.

Let’s look at the PTC-related provisions first. For those of you scoring at home, they are listed in the CBO report as Sections 13101 and 13701, which will cost roughly $51 billion and $11.2 billion, respectively. Thus, the cost of the new wind energy-related tax credits in Manchin-Schumer will total about $62.2 billion between now and 2031.

Now, the ITC-related provisions. They are listed as Sections 13102 and 13702 and will cost $13.9 billion, and $50.8 billion, respectively. Thus, the new solar-related tax credits in Manchin-Schumer will cost federal taxpayers about $64.7 billion between now and 2031. A bit of addition shows that the total cost of the new wind and solar tax credits will be about $126.9 billion.

That $126.9 billion in tax credits for wind and solar spelled out in the CBO report will be added on top of the $112.9 billion that was enumerated by the Treasury Department in its December tax expenditure report. Thus, under Manchin-Schumer, the subsidies for wind and solar will total a staggering $239.8 billion between now and 2031. That amounts to some $26.6 billion per year. Put another way, when this measure becomes law, solar and wind will get nearly as much in tax credits every year as the oil and gas industry will get over a decade.

Why should you care? First and foremost, you should care because these tax credits are just another form of corporate welfare. For years, advocates for renewable energy sectors have claimed that wind and solar are cheaper than traditional forms of electricity generation. To cite just one example, John Kerry, the Biden administration’s climate envoy, recently claimed that “Solar and wind are less expensive than coal or oil or gas. They just are less expensive.” If that were true, the wind and solar sectors wouldn’t need tax credits.

Furthermore, these tax credits are fueling land-use conflicts across America as rural communities fight back against the landscape-blighting sprawl of wind and solar projects. The Renewable Rejection Database shows that since 2013, more than 340 communities across the country have rejected or restricted wind projects. Communities are also rejecting solar projects. In March, NBC News reported that “at least 40” towns and counties have enacted moratoriums on solar projects since last year. Although NBC did not publish a list, the Renewable Rejection Database shows that 41 solar projects have been rejected in the U.S. since 2019. The latest example: Greensville County, Va., where the Board of Supervisors rejected a 123-megawatt solar project on Aug. 8 because it was not in “alignment with the county’s Comprehensive Plan.”

The punchline here is clear: Climate change is a concern, but it is not our only concern. Congress must be fiscally responsible. The CBO report shows that Manchin-Schumer contains unconscionable giveaways to the wind and solar sectors. If wind and solar are cheaper than conventional energy production, it’s time for them to prove it — without another $127 billion in taxpayer dollars.


Why Solar Power Is Failing Amid Record-Breaking Heat

This summer brought record-breaking heat, with temperatures reaching as high as 40oC in the UK.

With heatwaves being reported worldwide, leading to wildfires and other environmental concerns, at least one energy sector is getting attention for its major producing potential – solar power. But with solar panels collecting energy from the sun’s radiation, the world’s overheating may (unexpectedly) be of little benefit to solar power production.

However, this is not stopping rising consumer interest as people are driven to invest in solar technology as they see both hotter summers and rising consumer prices. With some of the hottest summers on record for several decades in many parts of the world, it must be doing wonders for solar power, right?

As the world heats up, people may think that more sun will bring more solar energy, even if it has been negative for many other reasons. But soaring temperatures may be hindering solar power production as solar panels work optimally at around 25oC and start becoming less efficient when the heat goes above this. And even if the heat does not hamper solar production, it is also doing little to help it.

With record temperatures being seen across much of Europe this summer, as the U.K. reached 40oC in July, solar farms have been seeing positive output levels, with Solar Energy U.K. reporting on 20th July that the country’s solar power output had “met up to a quarter of the U.K.’s power demand”. But this is mostly down to the country seeing more days of sunlight rather than higher temperatures.

Of course, when there’s sun there’s solar power. But because of the way solar panels work, they become slightly less efficient, by around 0.5 percent, for any degree over or under 25oC. This means that peak production periods in much of the world often happen in cooler spring months rather than during the summer.

Although Solar Energy U.K. believes that significant disruptions would only be seen if temperatures were to rise to highs of 65oC or above. CEO of the firm, Chris Hewett, stated: “It’s marginally better for efficiency in the spring but essentially if you have more light, you produce more solar power.” He added, “You have to remember that solar panels work all over the world. The same technology we put on our roofs is used in solar farms in the Saudi Arabian desert.”

But uncertainty around what rising temperatures mean for solar panel productivity has not stopped interest in solar energy from picking up as the public sees the correlation between hotter weather and solar power production. As countries around the globe face rapidly rising consumer energy prices, utility bills are costing people hundreds, or even thousands, a year more. This has helped to shift public opinion in favor of the rapid construction of strong renewable energy sectors, as well as home solar technology installation, as they are seeing the limitations of oil and gas.

In the U.K., the number of searches on eBay for solar panels and solar power batteries increased by 54 percent and 134 percent respectively in June compared to the same period last year. Demand for products to track and reduce energy use, such as smart meters, has also increased. In 2020, a government report stated that around 970,000 U.K. homes had solar panels, just over 3 percent of homes, with power production increasing from 1 MW in 2008 to 11,730 MW in 2020. According to the U.K. credit company Experian, around 1.9 million households are expected to install solar panels or other renewable energy technologies in 2022, showing a significant boost in public interest.

While the heat waves being seen across the world may not be boosting solar production in the way many might have thought, they have encouraged public interest in solar technologies. As consumers face rapidly rising energy prices and see more hot, sunny days, many are now turning to renewable energies such as solar power as an alternative to help them save money and become more self-sufficient.


Warmist deceit in Australia

‘Global heating pushing Australia’s Platypus towards extinction’. So reads a recent headline in Oceanographic magazine reporting a study released by researchers from the University of New South Wales and the University of Melbourne.

Relying on alarming projections of worsening, more frequent droughts, the researchers concluded ‘platypuses face increased local extinctions’, with numbers plummeting by up to 73 per cent.

But then, apocalyptic premises will inevitably result in catastrophic conclusions even when weather patterns are not unprecedented. Indeed, the five worst single years of recorded drought occurred before 1900. And, despite the latest floods, 2021 was only the wettest year since 2010 and, the sixth-wettest year since national records began in 1910. This was well before humans began emitting ‘dangerous levels’ of CO2.

But for catastrophists, if droughts and floods don’t do it, the Bureau of Meteorology’s ‘homogenised’ average land temperatures, which can’t be independently verified, are always a safe bet. They consistently record higher temperatures than more accurate lower-troposphere satellite observations. Satellites have been measuring temperatures since January 1979 and have observed no statistically significant global warming for a decade. No matter. The BoM knows there is a ready market for warming data.

But wait. Haven’t platypuses been around for 16 million years and wouldn’t they have survived more hostile climatic conditions than modern times? And, despite all the panic, isn’t the reality that the actual global rate of temperature increase is about one-third the projected centennial rate?

Still, studies which conclude climate change threats to wildlife survival, not least cuddly koalas, are career enhancing. But, as researcher Maria Nilsson and colleagues at the University of Münster, assert, Australian marsupials have also been around for a long time. They ascribe a migration scenario whereby possibly one group of ancestral South American marsupials migrated across Antarctica to Australia. This occurred prior to the landmasses separating during the warm Cretaceous period, some 80 million years ago when the poles were ice free. Volcanic eruptions and an asteroid put an end to that. Sea levels began to fall and temperatures started to drop. So extreme was the fall in temperatures that dinosaurs became extinct. But not marsupials.

And, it’s not just our fauna. The Great Barrier Reef has been a popular focus of climate catastrophists. Not as ancient as many wildlife species, the reefs have grown on Queensland’s south continental shelf for about two million years and for up to eighteen million years in the north. In their current incarnation they are probably 12,000 years old.

Over their entire existence, sea levels have changed many times. During the last ice age, which began around 2.6 million years ago, the sea level dropped more than 100 metres, making it possible to walk to the outer reef. When the ice age ended around 15,000 years ago, sea levels rose rapidly and new corals grew to form today’s reefs.

Despite this extraordinary record of survival, since the early 1970s activists have been predicting the end of the reef. The latest warning came in a study from James Cook University’s ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies. It claimed the reef had lost more than half of its corals since 1995 due to warmer seas driven by climate change. The study’s lead author predicted ‘The northern Great Barrier Reef will never look quite the same again…. There is no time to lose – we must sharply decrease greenhouse gas emissions ASAP’.

This call to arms was enthusiastically joined by the ultimate global warming cheerleader – the United Nations. It warned that should temperatures reach 1.5 degrees celsius above pre-industrial times, 90 per cent of corals will be wiped out. It called for the reef to be put on a list of world heritage sites that are ‘in danger’. Its Unesco agency lectured Australia to take ‘decisive and immediate action to mitigate the impacts of climate change’.

Both JCU and the UN seem ignorant of the fact that Australia already spends per capita ten times more on renewable energy than the world average and four time more than China, Europe, the United States and Japan. And by making Australia a convenient scapegoat, they cravenly avoid exposing the real villain – Beijing, whose emissions in the last decade alone have grown by 25 per cent and now exceed all developed countries combined, almost matching them on a per capita basis.

Which makes the latest Australian Institute of Marine Science annual report proving coral coverage on the northern and central parts of the Great Barrier Reef is at its highest level since monitoring began 36 years ago especially unwelcome. It validates Dr Peter Ridd’s views whose scholarship countering the prevailing apocalyptic orthodoxy, had him fired from JCU.

That said, while the results are reliable, AIMS’s methods are outdated, which raises questions as to why, with $1.44 billion in government grants and pledges, the Great Barrier Reef Foundation has not funded AIMS into the latest Japanese technology? Perhaps in ignorance lies financial bliss? True or not, blaming global warming for the projected decimation of the platypus, certain marsupial populations and, the Great Barrier Reef, has proven to be a lucrative source of funding for activists and rent-seekers.

It’s also an excuse for the federal government to institutionalise massive wealth transfers through a 43 per cent 2030 emissions reduction target. It knows this ambition is utterly unattainable but that a lie told often enough becomes the truth. So the enforced economic and social distortions which follow will enrich the few at the expense of the many and be justified on the familiar, yet dishonest, ground that the cost of emissions reduction is far less than the damages of inaction.

As US House Speaker, Nancy Pelosi neatly summarised when supporting the Democrats’ historic climate bill, ‘How can they (Republicans) vote against the planet? Mother Earth gets angry from time to time and this legislation will help us address all of that’. In a world led by superstitious authoritarians, who will argue?




Sunday, August 28, 2022

Japan’s nuclear renaissance

Japan is reversing its avowedly anti-nuclear stance, restarting idled plants and looking to develop a new generation of reactors, announced Prime Minister Fumio Kishida on Wednesday. This major policy shift from the world’s third biggest economic power underlines both the seriousness of the global energy crisis and points to the most likely way ahead.

This announcement would have seemed unimaginable a decade ago in the wake of the Fukushima nuclear disaster, which saw the plant flooded and led to three separate hydrogen explosions. Then prime minister Naoto ordered those living within a 12-mile radius of the plant to be evacuated as the Fukushima area was designated a contaminated wasteland. I well remember the widespread fear that we were days away from a radioactive cloud heading south to engulf us in Tokyo. Many fled, while others refused to venture outdoors. Iodine tablets were distributed and we hoped for the best.

The worst prophecies of disaster didn’t come true. The fact that it subsequently became apparent that the main problem with Fukushima was its ill thought through coastal location and poor plant design rather than any inherent problems with nuclear energy was immaterial. Voices of moderation and caution were drowned out by the shrill denunciations of the already powerful anti-nuclear lobby, who saw their apocalyptic warnings being fully justified.

Under pressure, prime minister Naoto pledged to ‘reduce and eventually eliminate [Japan’s] dependence on nuclear power’. He immediately closed the ageing Hamaoka plant and called for the abandonment of plans to build 14 new reactors. Japan now has just seven operating reactors (from a pre-Fukushima high of 50) with three offline due to maintenance. There are many others still in existence, but their operation is being held up by the strict licensing process imposed after Fukushima.

Around 80 per cent of the Japanese public opposed nuclear powerin aftermath of Fukushima. The most vocal opposition came from the Hidankyo group – made up of survivors of the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The group, who had 10,000 members at the time, called for the complete end of nuclear power generation in Japan back in 2012. Japan’s nuclear program seemed moribund.

But that was then and this is now. The ramifications of the war in Ukraine have made Japan, which imports 90 per cent of its energy, especially vulnerable. Then there is the post-lockdown financial crisis with its symptom: inflation, almost unheard of in Japan, is causing palpitations and focusing minds.

Then there is Kishida himself, whose views on energy have always seemed to favour the practical and achievable. He is one of the least vocal world leaders on anthropogenic climate change – does he really believe in it? This is the man who won the ‘fossil of the day’ award at COP26 for a speech deemed insufficiently zealous about the net-zero agenda. He has been diplomatically vague on the issue throughout his career, stressing the importance of energy security and technology as much as carbon emissions reductions.

Kishida’s announcement has surprised many, but it perhaps shouldn’t have done. He gave hints of his thinking on the matter in an important but underreported policy speech at the Mansion House in London in May (it was the same day Graham Brady announced the Tory leadership contest). He paid lip service to Japan’s 2030 emissions reduction targets (46 per cent by 2030 – as imagined in a ‘vision’ by jejune environment minister Shinjiro Koizumi) but since the target was set before he became PM and the end date will almost certainly fall outside Kishida’s tenure, it can’t be taken too seriously.

The key phrase he used in London was when he said Japan’s environmental policy must be compatible with ‘maintaining a stable energy supply’, a theme he developed by stressing the importance of nuclear energy while making only the briefest mention of renewables (no targets here). He didn’t even promise to phase out Japan’s remaining coal plants. It was strikingly equivocal language for a world leader at the time.

Kishida is even bolder now. He won a resounding victory in July’s upper house election and perhaps feels there will never have a better time to chart a new course. In any case, the fervent antipathy to all things nuclear is dissipating. Even though Kishida is from Hiroshima and has made a commitment to peace inspired by the bombing of his birthplace a theme in his public comments, the resonance of that event is slowly diminishing. The survivors of the two nuclear attacks are dwindling in number and the once regular anti-nuclear marches are seldom seen. The public mood has changed.

The question now is what impact Japan’s move will have on other countries. Most likely it will add some momentum to similar movements seen elsewhere. In the meantime, the message from Japan is this: we are heading back to what we told you once was the future, and then told you wasn’t; while not, of course, admitting that we shouldn’t have changed course in the first place.


CA lacks the transmission lines needed to use all the renewable power it generates, resulting in lots of wastage

California's precariously out-of-date hybrid power grid can't handle the state's growing amounts of solar and wind energy coming online, with system managers already forcing repeated cutbacks in renewables and a continued reliance on conventional energy to keep the grid stable, according to state data.

The shortcomings of the transmission grid, which energy consultants in this bellwether state have warned about for years, raise the prospect that marquee products of the growing battery economy such as electric vehicles – "emission free" on the road – will be recharged mainly from traditional electricity-generating power plants: energy from fossil fuels, some of it from out of state.

Writ large, the transmission problem threatens the zero-carbon future envisioned by green advocates nationwide. “We’re headed toward duplicate systems whose only benefit is to permit the occasional use of ‘clean power,’” said Grant Ellis, an independent electrical engineering consultant in Texas.

California, along with the rest of the desert Southwest, is adding solar and wind installations at a rapid pace. The state is projected to add four gigawatts of utility-scale solar energy this year alone, enough to power 2.8 million homes. The question is whether that’s going to be enough.

So-called "curtailments" of renewable power have become much more frequent for the state’s blackout-prone power grid because the state hasn't constructed enough transmission lines, transformers, poles, and other infrastructure to keep up. The amount of renewable energy curtailed in California tripled between 2018 and 2021, according to operator statistics.

On top of the conventional power often deployed in its stead, that renewable power was thus wasted, since there is no place yet to store it. The state curtailed 596,175 megawatt hours in April, or 596,175 million kilowatt hours, according to several calculators. With 10,715 kilowatt hours the average annual electric consumption of a home in the U.S. in 2020, as calculated by the U.S. Energy Information Administration, California’s curtailed wind and solar energy in April could power 55,000 homes for a year.

The cutbacks mean that electric power generation falls back on nuclear and hydroelectric power, natural gas, and other more traditional sources, which provided nearly 60% of California's electric generation last year.

The state also imported 30% of its electric energy last year from other states – 9.5% of it from coal, most of it from the Intermountain Power Project in Utah.

The curtailments come at a crucial time in what the Biden administration insists is a “transition” from a fossil fuel-driven country to one that relies on renewable energy to save the planet from what believers warn will be a climate-change disaster.

Eric O’Shaughnessy, a renewable energy consultant who has worked with the federally funded Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, blames a stalemate between renewable energy providers and electric system operators over who will pay for any infrastructure buildout.

Transmission Agency of Northern California
This California agency estimates at least 10-15 years to develop a publicly funded renewable-energy transmission project.

“The system operators say, ‘We need this huge investment, and you are going to have to pay it,’ and the solar developer believes everyone should pay,” O’Shaughnessy said. Then politics comes into play “and that project gets shelved.”


‘Fuel emissions standards’ just a costly leg-up for EVs

Judith Sloan

You have to hand it to the passenger motor vehicle industry – they are past masters at securing favours from governments. They have been doing it for decades – arguably it’s their core skill set.

When the US car companies got into trouble during the global financial crisis, the executives flew off to Washington in their private jets to plead with the Obama administration to be bailed out. Their request was granted.

Notwithstanding the fact that Volkswagen was involved in one of the largest corporate scandals ever – in relation to falsifying the emissions standards of their vehicles – the company remains a favourite of the German government as well as other governments around the world.

The reasons that the car industry holds sway with politicians are obvious. Most of us drive cars and car factories stand out and employ lots of people who are relatively well paid. There are both patriotic and masculinity aspects to cars – they need to be defended.

Car manufacturing in Australia lasted several decades in the context of extremely high rates of protection. Over time, the number of manufacturers shrank but at the end, the overseas-owned companies could not convince the federal government to continue to prop them up.

Australian consumers had paid dearly with high prices and a limited range of cars on offer. Some people might have loved their locally produced Holdens or Fords. But by dint of high tariffs and other measures (government-imposed quotas were favoured at one point), Australian drivers came off badly.

Just because we no longer produce cars here doesn’t mean that the multinational car companies have given up seeking to influence government policy to their benefit. And this is precisely what is happening with fuel emissions standards. Don’t think for a minute they are motivated by saving the planet; it’s all about ensuring that what is decided yields their company the best commercial result.

It’s why there is actually an all-mighty spat going on between the premium European car companies which are represented by the Electric Vehicle Council and the companies that supply the bulk of cars for income-constrained customers – Toyota and Mazda, in particular – which are represented by the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries.

The European car companies are led by VW – there’s an irony there. Their aim is to kill off the push to hybrid vehicles, preferring instead for government policy to leapfrog the hybrid phase and head straight to fully electric vehicles, something which they specialise in. (Mind you, given that VW is essentially paid by the German government to produce fully electric vehicles, it’s hardly surprising that the company made the switch away from internal combustion engine vehicles.)

FCAI, by contrast, sees hybrids as being a popular and convenient stepping-stone to accommodate lower net emissions arising from car transport. (It accounts for around 10 per cent of our total emissions.) According to its modelling, fully electric vehicles will make up less than 20 per cent of new car sales in 2030, with a further quarter internal combustion and the remaining hybrids.

The preferred government modelling and one also favoured by the EVC is that over 90 per cent of new cars sales will be fully EV by 2030. (In their dreams, by the way.) The EVC is lobbying to make sure that only plug-in hybrids are counted in this percentage, thereby serving the interests of its members. (Most hybrids at this stage are not plug-in.)

Where do fuel emissions standards come into this argument? Before answering this question, it needs to be pointed out that Labor rejected changing these standards as part of its election manifesto. That’s right – any changes were explicitly ruled out. But this has not stopped Climate Change Minister, Chris Bowen, from effectively reneging on this pledge and opening the issue up for discussion. In other words, expect changes to fuel standards very soon. (Didn’t I warn you about Bowen (and Burke)?)

The push is on from the EVC to insist that Australia comply with European emissions standards – referred to as Euro 6 – which, incidentally will provide a massive commercial boost to its members. The shift is opposed by the FCAI. This standard puts a maximum of 95 grams of CO2 per kilometre driven by passenger motor vehicles. Most of Australia’s most popular current vehicles have emissions in excess of 200 grams per kilometre.

But here’s the important feature to note – the way these new emissions standards will work is that each manufacturer must comply with a Corporate Average Fuel Emissions figure. In this way, the manufacturers cross-subsidise the sales of their EVS while jacking up the price of popular cars on the Australian roads. This suits the premium European car manufacturers to a tee, but will hurt the average driver who requires an affordable vehicle combined with convenience.

When Bowen summarily rejected the idea that these new fuel emissions standards are the equivalent of a sector carbon tax, he was dead wrong. That’s what it is, that’s what its intention is.

There is another major complication to the insistence on Euro 6 in Australia and that is that our two remaining refineries are not in a position to comply at this point of time. There has been considerable progress with the sulphur issue and a solution is now likely by 2024. But the problem of aromatics has not been solved. Additions of ethanol would help but would also significantly add to the price of petrol, which wouldn’t be politically popular.

You might imagine the resulting closure of the refineries would weigh on Bowen’s thinking – on national security grounds, at the very least – but there is little doubt that some of his advisers and the bureaucrats will be telling him not to worry too much. Just think of the contribution to the reduction in our national emissions that their closure would involve!

So where do consumer preferences fit into this policy about-face? The reality is that very many Australians, particularly those living in outer metropolitan and regional areas, are quite rightly attached to their powerful ICE cars and spending five minutes max to fill them up. The last thing they want is to pay top dollar for an EV and wait hours to charge it up, having driven around to find an available charger.

But consumer preferences won’t count for much when Bowen thinks he is saving the planet but is actually being conned by lobbyists. More sighing.


Coal mine would ‘improve’ Barrier reef, Australian mining company claims

Clive Palmer’s Central Queensland Coal Project would actually improve the quality of the Great Barrier Reef, would help retain Marlborough’s sole remaining paramedic and create “more jobs per hectare” than the reef does, the billionaire’s company claims in a surprising official response to mine’s rejection.

Environment Minister Tanya Plibersek earlier this month refused the coal mine on a number of reasons, including that it is only 10km from the Great Barrier Reef.

In its official objection to the mine’s refusal, obtained by The Courier-Mail, Mr Palmer’s Central Queensland Coal Project claims this reason is “emotive and misleading”.

“Singling out our Companies and Directors within our group is unfair treatment by the Government and in particular the Labour (sic) Governments within the Commonwealth and the State,” the document stated.

It stated that while the mine is 10km from the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area, it is 192km from the actual reef itself.

In a unique argument, it says that while the reef generates $6.4 billion a year to the economy of 64,000 jobs, the objection says this is spread out of 3.44 million ha.

“The CQC proposed mining lease extends over 1915ha and generates up to $3.1 billion per year and 500 full-time jobs,” the document stated.

“This equates to the Great Barrier Reef generating $1858 per ha, whereas CQC generates up to $1,618,799 per ha being an 871 times multiplier.

“Similar logic applied to jobs presents a 14 times multiplier.”

Levees to be constructed as part of the mine mean there will be less sediment run off and “the current Great Barrier Reef will be protected and water quality improved”, the document claimed.

Earlier this week, Special Envoy for the Great Barrier Reef Senator Nita Green said Mr Palmer had to pass the same environmental approvals as anyone else.

“I have not seen the reasons for the proposed decision, but I am fully aware that poor water quality is an ongoing risk to the Reef and the jobs it supports. It’s up to any proponent to show how they can mitigate such risks,” Senator Green said.




Friday, August 26, 2022

How salmon numbers rise and fall during El Nino and La Nina

Greenies shriek when salmon numbers fall but it is part of a natural cycle

Nate Mantua, Climate Scientist at NOAA Fisheries, explains how salmon numbers rise and fall during El Nino and La Nina.

It’s one of the most iconic shots in nature documentaries: salmon, in slow-motion, leaping above rushing river rapids and dodging the open jowls of hungry bears, all for the sake of reaching their nesting grounds.

Their treacherous journey is a tale as old as time. But outside of a bear’s voracious appetite, another factor can impact the salmon’s journey and the survivability of the fish they spawn: the weather.

In the United States, salmon are primarily found in the waters of Alaska and the Pacific Northwest. Given the coastal nature of these regions, the weather they experience is largely dictated by the conditions of the Pacific Ocean.

Oceanic temperature changes, in particular, create certain weather conditions that can have a significant effect on the amount and quality of cold water in salmon habitats. This, in turn, affects the health and numbers of salmon.

The role of El Niño and La Niña

Oceanic temperatures and weather changes are driven by extreme weather cycles known as El Nino and La Nina.

El Nino is a cyclical climate pattern that sees the warming of ocean waters around the tropics. In contrast, La Niña is a cyclical climate pattern that sees a cooling of tropical ocean waters.

These cooling and warming events cause ripple effects throughout the Pacific Ocean and around the world.

"This is a phenomenon that's totally natural — it's been happening for hundreds of thousands of years," said Nate Mantua, a research scientist in NOAA's Southwest Fisheries Science Center.

"It's something that scientists got excited about decades ago because it affects so much of the earth's climate and it also affects the oceans and marine life and fisheries in sometimes unpredictable ways."

One of those ways involves the size of salmon populations in Alaska and the Pacific Northwest.

According to Mantua, in Alaska, El Nino typically brings a milder and wetter winter with more snowmelt and rain-fed runoff. This runoff feeds the waterways with plenty of cold water, creating prime habitat for breeding in freshwater and improved ocean conditions for salmon once they go to sea.

But further south in the Pacific Northwest, Mantua said this same El Nino event brings a warmer and drier winter, along with a warmer ocean.

This means that less snow falls, creating a smaller snowpack in the mountains during winter; and because of the small snowpack during an El Nino winter, when spring arrives, there is less snow for the warmer temperatures to melt. This creates less cold water flowing into the watersheds, which leads to a degradation in the freshwater habitat for salmon.

During a La Nina year, the effects on each location are reversed.

According to Mantua, the colder ocean currents disfavor Alaska salmon by bringing in a drier winter, while benefiting salmon in the Pacific Northwest by bringing in colder storms and heavier snowpacks to the region’s mountains.

"The ocean currents and ocean temperatures tend to change in ways that also make it more productive and more of a cold water subarctic ocean food web, where salmon grow faster and survive at higher rates and come back in bigger numbers," Mantua said.


Empirical observations show no sign of ‘climate crisis’

A systematic review of climate trends and observational data by an eminent climate scientist has found no evidence to support the claim of a climate crisis.

In his annual State of the Climate report, Ole Humlum, emeritus professor at the University of Oslo, examined detailed patterns in temperature changes in the atmosphere and oceans together with trends in climate impacts. Many of these show no significant trends and suggest that poorly understood natural cycles are involved.

And while the report finds gentle warming, there is no evidence of dramatic changes, with snow cover stable, sea ice levels recovering, and no change in storm activity.

Professor Humlum said:

“A year ago, I warned that there was great risk in using computer modelling and immature science to make extraordinary claims. The empirical observations I have reviewed show very gentle warming and no evidence of a climate crisis.”

GWPF director, Dr Benny Peiser said:

“It’s extraordinary that anyone should think there is a climate crisis. Year after year our annual assessment of climate trends document just how little has been changing in the last 30 years. The habitual climate alarmism is mainly driven by scientists’ computer modelling rather than observational evidence.”


Politicians should let the market solve the energy crisis

What policies should the government adopt in response to the energy crisis? When thinking about any policy, the correct place to start is to consider what kinds of solutions the market would produce absent any government intervention.

Markets will always produce some kind of answer, and the market answer will often be very good in many respects. Policymakers should not assume they are intervening in a void, where almost any well-intentioned action might be better than nothing. Instead, they should always be more humble, seeking to understand what the market might do, accept that the market response is likely to be pretty good, and think about how, if at all, they can make that market response better and how to be careful not to impede the good features that a market response would produce.

In the case of the energy crisis, let’s imagine that the market is left alone, and believes the government will not interfere. In this scenario, there would be a huge effort to create and collect more energy, because of the very high prices at present. Households and businesses would use less energy if they could. This would almost certainly still leave many households with a large gap between their incomes and their expenditures. So workers would demand higher wages to pay their bills, either from their current employers or in a new job. Some workers would get these wage rises; others would lose their jobs. Some households would still find that, even after cutting back on their energy usage and perhaps getting a wage rise, they would still face shortfalls. If they felt these shortfalls were temporary (perhaps because energy prices might fall back in future or perhaps because, given longer, households might be able to cut back more or raise their incomes more) they might be able to borrow from the private sector to cover the gap. Businesses facing similar shortfalls would most likely do the same, as long as they were able to get a loan.

The above set of market solutions would have many good features. There would be strong incentives to create as much new energy as possible as quickly as possible and to cut back where feasible. The most productive workers would get salary rises. Workers in the wrong jobs or businesses that were unviable would be forced out and that labour and capital would be released for more productive uses. Savers would have the opportunity to lend to households and business that would be viable longer-term, getting a return on those loans.

What a government should want is for all the above to occur, but with the poor protected by benefits rising with their costs, and with some macroeconomic smoothing via reduced tax rises or tax cuts. What a government should not want (should absolutely not want) is for the above process to be stopped altogether or be mainly replaced by government action.

Where the government should intervene is in benefits for low-income households. Benefits and benefits thresholds currently rise in line with inflation anyway. But inflation as measured by the CPI index does not accurately reflect the cost rises lower-income households experience. A different measure should be used. And, whereas annual benefits rising each April is adequate when inflation is low, with inflation now so high this needs to be more frequent. Benefits will need to rise in October, and to do so to a level that anticipates some of the inflation rises over the winter, so benefits recipients can cover their bills.

For average income households, however, there should not be any special benefits. Neither should the energy price rise be suppressed by the government capping the price and subsidising energy retailers. Denying economic reality by paying subsidies to shield consumers from inflation is the short road to economic ruin.

High energy prices mean economic pain for us all. We cannot pretend that away. Engaging in massive borrowing to stop the price mechanism from telling us the truth – that we should all be using less energy if we can and those able to should create as much new energy as they can – will not make that unpleasant truth go away. And if we do not allow the price mechanism to ration our energy use and guide energy use to where it is most economically effective, we may well end up with rationing instead.

There is probably going to be a recession. To help with that, the government can avoid raising taxes as much as currently scheduled, at least temporarily. It may even be able to reduce some taxes. There is inflation, so interest rates must rise. Macroeconomic management is the right response to a recession, not manipulation of individual prices.


Australia: Government releases 10 sites for oil and gas exploration, angering crossbench

A surprise from a Leftist government

The federal government will release a further 10 sites for exploration for new oil and gas projects off the coasts of Victoria, the Northern Territory and Western Australia, triggering rebukes from crossbench senators who say it doesn’t align with the government’s own climate goals.

Industry Minister Madeleine King announced the release of the sites, totalling 46,758 square kilometres of Commonwealth waters, on Wednesday saying it would play an important role in securing future energy supplies.

“The annual release of areas for offshore petroleum exploration supports ongoing investment in the nation’s petroleum sector, which is vital for the economy and meeting the energy needs of Australians,” King said.

“At the same time as we strive to reduce emissions it must be emphasised that continued exploration for oil and gas in Commonwealth waters is central to alleviating future domestic gas shortfalls.”

The new sites are in Commonwealth waters in 10 areas, including Victoria’s Gippsland basin and Western Australia’s Carnarvon basin.

Australia remains a net exporter of gas, and imports much of its oil due to the lack domestic of oil refinery capacity.

According to an analysis by the International Energy Agency last year the world cannot build any new oil and gas projects if it expects to meet Paris Agreement climate goals.

Senator David Pocock said on Wednesday night he was concerned the government was pursuing “business as usual” with the oil and gas industry given the IEA’s analysis and the government’s own target to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Greens Senator Peter Whish-Wilson said the release of the sites “made a mockery” of its own climate targets with the announcement.

“We already have enough oil and gas in reserves to trigger catastrophic climate change to our planet,” he said.

He noted that the Morrison government had stopped the controversial Pep-11 exploration off the coast of NSW due to community concerns and that while in opposition Prime Minister Anthony Albanese had agreed it should be halted.

“If opposing fossil fuel exploration due to community and environmental concerns was good enough for NSW, then it is sheer hypocrisy not to do the same for coastlines right around Australia,” Whish-Wilson said.

Anthony Albanese declared an “end to the climate wars” after Climate Minister Chris Bowen negotiated support for Labor’s 43 per cent target to cut greenhouse gas emissions, which was approved by the new House of Representatives at the start of August.

But King’s announcement follows warnings from Greens’ leader Adam Bandt and Pocock that they will use their casting votes in the Senate to enforce the target by opposing any legislation that approves high-polluting new projects.

King also announced the approval of two sites for greenhouse gasses to be stored underground in offshore geological formations as part of potential future carbon capture and storage projects.

“Carbon capture and storage has a vital role to play to help Australia meet its net zero targets,” she said.

Climate scientists and activists argue that despite billions being spent, large-scale carbon, capture and storage has never worked commercially.




Thursday, August 25, 2022

Greenies have suceeded in making use less energy, mainly by making it more expensive

Since about 2005, and in almost every Western economy, something historically unprecedented and extremely alarming has been happening to energy consumption: it’s either flatlining or in decline. This remarkable but little discussed fact is jeopardising almost every aspect of our public policy, from climate change mitigation, through national security to societal progression itself. President Biden’s plans to vastly increase spending on renewables such as wind and solar through the Inflation Reduction Act are grabbing the headlines, and it’s not hard to see why, but they may actually be counterproductive, and in any case are overshadowed by the sweeping macroscopic trend of falling Western demand for energy.

According to data collected by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, total energy consumption in the UK, for example, is back at levels not seen since the 1950s; there has been a 30 percent decline from its peak in 2003, which is astonishing given that the population has increased by 12.5 percent, to 67 million, over the same period.

According to the European Environment Agency, energy consumption in the EU stalled with the financial crisis of 2008, has fallen by about 13 percent from the peak of 2006 and is now at levels not seen since before 1990. Even in North America, energy consumption is stagnant. Post-2007, total energy consumption in the United States fell substantially and then flatlined, falling again because of the pandemic, and, by 2020, it had lost about 13 percent of the 2007 high. Some of that lost demand was recovered in 2021, as public health restrictions were lifted, but it remains to be seen whether demand will return even to the earlier flatline levels. Canadian demand is faltering similarly. Across the Pacific, Australia has shown weak to non-existent growth in demand since 2008 and Japanese energy demand has fallen by over 20 percent from its 2004 peak.

Energy use not only includes electricity, but also other areas of consumption including transport, heating and cooking. - Our World in Data

This pattern applies not only to energy consumption in general but also to the consumption of electricity. Since the 2005 peak, UK electricity consumption has fallen by about 20 percent to levels last seen in the early 1990s. Reduction in the consumption of a form of energy that is a key indicator of a modern society is not a good sign.

Some will reasonably ask, “Isn’t reduced energy demand, even for electricity, just evidence of increased efficiency?” Counterintuitively, the answer is “No.” In fact, greater energy efficiency in one domain merely provides energy for consumption in another. Energy efficiency will either increase demand for the now-cheaper good or service or, if demand for the good or service cannot increase rapidly, the saved energy will be economised to improve the quality of life in another sector, and so total energy consumption will tend to rise.

The money you’ve saved by switching to energy-efficient lightbulbs and appliances can now be spent on a holiday or a new Tesla, or, much further up the chain, to improve higher-level societal goods such as new roads, better healthcare, or stronger military defence. Energy, like cash, is never left on the table. There is no obvious limit to improvements to our wellbeing—and energy provides the means.

So, what is causing Western energy consumption to collapse? Regrettably, it is due to environmental policy and its far-reaching unintended consequences. Of these interventions, the most damaging are emissions trading schemes and the unprecedented investment in renewable energy, both of which are significantly increasing consumer costs and causing consumption to plummet. The EU’s emissions trading scheme adds about €17 billion a year to energy costs within the bloc, and the UK’s newly independent version is expected to cost a staggering €6.7 billion in the current financial year.

In addition to this, the EU has spent an incredible €800 billion providing income support to renewables since 2008, a total that is still increasing at €69 billion a year. The UK alone is paying over €12 billion every year topping up incomes for wind and solar. So far, the US is a relatively minor player, having spent a mere €120 billion from 2008 to 2018, which is probably part of the reason that things are not as bad on that side of the Atlantic.

The expectation was that these subsidies would bring down the cost of renewable energy and reduce emissions of greenhouse gases at an affordable cost. Both hopes have been disappointed. Capital and particularly operating costs have remained stubbornly high, while grid system management costs are rising sharply. Because green electricity is still extremely expensive, the cost of preventing the emission of a tonne of carbon dioxide by switching to wind or solar vastly exceeds even high-end estimates of the Social Cost of Carbon, which is a monetised value of the harm done to human welfare by the climate change arising from that carbon dioxide. The conclusion is obvious. The cure is worse than the disease.

The intentions may have been good, but by committing these vast subsidies to renewables, politicians have failed to provide an economically compelling example of a low-carbon energy transition and have succeeded only in making energy much more expensive, resulting in price-rationing and falling consumption.

Energy isn’t a substance like coal or oil; rather, it is an abstract property of all substances, namely the capacity to cause change in the world—to do work, a potential measured in joules.

Joules can be realised as a property of the chemical bonds in fossil fuels, the forces holding an atom together, moving objects such as flowing wind or water, electromagnetic solar radiation, and objects acting on each other through gravity. All have the capacity to cause change, but this capacity varies in both quantity, which is intuitively obvious, and much more importantly, its quality, its ability to do work, to change the world, and here the mind is particularly weak in grasping the essentials. Yes, there is a large quantity of energy in the sunshine and in the wind blowing around the globe. But that energy is of very low quality and not available to do much useful work. There is also a great deal of energy in the vibrating atoms in the objects around you in the room as you read this article, or in falling raindrops—lots of energy, yet all basically useless. Wind and sunlight are only a little better.

There is a reason why no creatures make a living by extracting energy from the wind—the quality level is just too low—and there is a reason that the organisms that manage to build lives from solar energy, plants, are relatively simple and, generally speaking, stationary. There is only so much you can do with a low-quality form of energy like solar radiation at the surface of the Earth. Creatures that eat plants can be more complex; creatures that eat herbivores can be more complex still.


Energy panic engulfs Europe as power prices smash new record

European gas and power prices surged as panic over Russian supplies gripped markets and politicians warned citizens to brace for a tough winter ahead.

Benchmark gas settled at a record high, while German power surged to above 700 euros ($696) a megawatt-hour for the first time. Russia said it will stop its key Nord Stream gas pipeline for three days of repairs on Aug. 31, again raising concerns it won’t return after the work. Europe has been on tenterhooks about shipments through the link for weeks, with flows resuming only at very low levels after it was shut for works last month.

“The catastrophe is already there,” Thierry Bros, a professor in international energy at Sciences Po in Paris, said. “I think the major question is when EU leaders are going to wake up.”

In one of the most dire warnings yet, Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo said Europe could face up to 10 difficult winters. It would put sustained stress on major economies and leave thousands of households struggling to pay their bills. Concerns over the economy pushed the euro currency to a two-decade low on Monday, while inflation is at the highest in years.

Europe finds itself in a precarious situation with the official start of the winter heating season just over a month away. Nations are rushing to fill storage sites, but they are still heavily dependent on Russian gas and any further cutbacks could make rationing a reality.

French President Emmanuel Macron warned people of the potential hardships in the coming months, and asked them to “accept paying the price for our freedom and our values,” he said in a speech Friday commemorating the liberation of a town in southern France in World War II.

Germany’s circumstances are particularly urgent: the country’s dependence on Russian gas leaves it vulnerable as it desperately searches for alternative supplies. The nation is considering restarting coal-fired power plants and may extend the life of remaining nuclear power plants, while urging gas conservation. Industries in Europe’s biggest economy are already take a major hit.

“Being the powerhouse of Europe, the combination of industrial exposure, married with energy intensive industries, means that there could be a significant hit to Germany as the crisis continues,” said Martin Devenish, a former Goldman Sachs Group Inc. managing director who now works for S-RM Intelligence & Risk Consulting Ltd. “The currency markets are already pricing in a fair amount of risk in Europe, and that’s partly energy related”.

If the energy crisis worsens, a recession is likely next winter, Bundesbank Chief Joachim Nagel said over the weekend. Further gas supply cuts could be coming, German Economy Minister Robert Habeck said, reiterated a call to conserve energy. “We have a very critical winter right in front of us,” he told public broadcaster ZDF in Montreal, during a visit to Canada with Chancellor Olaf Scholz. “We must expect Putin to further reduce gas.”

On Friday, Gazprom said works are needed in the only functioning turbine that can pump gas into Nord Stream. The pipeline has been operating at only 20% capacity for weeks and European politicians insist the curbs are politically motivated. Russia’s Gazprom PJSC said volumes would return to that level following the latest shutdown.

“The market may disregard Gazprom’s comments and start to consider whether the pipeline may not return to service, or at the very least may be delayed for any given reason,” said Biraj Borkhataria, an analyst at RBC Capital Markets.


New study cautions over-interpreting influence of climate on cultural change and catastrophe

El Nino has been a major driver of societal collapse, various catastrophes and cultural change in coastal Peru for millenia, but it isn’t the only culprit. In a new study, University of Maine researchers warn against over-interpreting the role climatic change, like an El Nino event, plays in societal and cultural transition.

Dan Sandweiss, a professor in the Anthropology Department and Climate Change Institute, and Kirk Maasch, a professor in the School of Earth and Climate Sciences and the Climate Change Institute, investigated whether climate influenced the abandonment of three sites in the Lambayeque Valley in northern Peru: Pampa Grande not long after 750 A.D., Batán Grande in 1100 A.D. and Túcume, America’s largest pyramid center, between 1532 and 1547 A.D. Sandweiss excavated Túcume in collaboration with Norwegian explorer Thor Heyerdahl in the 1990s.

All three sites were major centers of Andean society at their time, and large adobe and fill mounds in each site were burned when they were abandoned. Pampa Grande covered 600 acres and centered around the mound Huaca Fortaleza. Batán Grande had eight large mounds. Túcume spanned 200 hectares with 13 major mounds and several dozen smaller structures, according to researchers.

Sandweiss and Maasch analyzed data from three proxy records for climate change and El Nino activity to determine whether they occurred around the same time as the abandonment of these sites. Those records included an ice core from the Quelccaya ice cap in southern Peru, a marine sediment core from the coast and a lake sediment record from Pallcacocha in highland Ecuador.

The data showed that climate contributed to the abandonment of Pampa Grande and Batán Grande, but not Túcume, which resulted from the Spanish conquest. The new study also revealed associations between the abandonment of Pampa Grande and Batán Grande and El Nino, albeit at different degrees of intensity.

“Our study shows that equifinality — similar outcomes from different causes — likely happened in Peruvian prehistory,” says Maasch. “This urges caution in seeing a single process such as climate change as the prime driver of all abrupt change.”

Ice core and marine and lake sediment core records showed that the abandonment of Pampa Grande occurred during the onset of the Medieval Warm Period, a time of extreme drought and a strong peak in El Nino intensity, according to researchers. The abandonment of Batán Grande happened at the latter end of the Medieval Warm Period during a drought and when there was a small peak in El Nino intensity. After both sites were abandoned, El Nino intensity diminished and new mound centers were built, researchers say.

Civilizations along the Peruvian Coast experience several different types of El Nino. Researchers theorize that the abandonment of Pampa Grande and Batán Grande occurred during a Central Pacific El Nino, which is known for causing drought in areas of the Andean Highlands like the Lambayeque Valley.

Sandweiss and Maasch previously found connections between climate and cultural change in early Peruvian civilizations, particularly during initial monument construction in 5800 B.P., at the end of the Late Preceramic Period around 3800–3600 B.P., and at the conclusion of the Initial Period temple tradition at 2850 B.P. The climatic pattern has brought extreme weather conditions that decimate agricultural infrastructure, depress fisheries, usher in disease and damage archaeological resources in northern Peru, and it continues to threaten the region’s economy and culture.

“When we began working on the Peruvian coast, we saw El Nino events as unmitigated disasters,” says Sandweiss. “Thanks to more recent work by many colleagues and studies like this one, we now have a better understanding of the resilience of ancient Peruvians in the face of climatic and other catastrophes. Along with technological responses, ideological changes such as site abandonment were part of the cultural repertoire for dealing with disaster.”

Sandweiss has spent decades conducting pioneering research on the origins of El Nino and fluctuations of its frequency and intensity over time. He also is credited with discovering variation in the frequency of El Nino events during the Holocene (the last 11,400 years) and, in the process, demonstrating the value of archaeological remains as records of past climates and early maritime adaptations.

His work on El Nino has provided seminal contributions to the field and provided a scientific foundation for exploring the impact of climatic disasters on cultural change in the Andes.


Unbelievable: Application to develop gas field rejected by Australian government as "not in the national interest"

The new federal Environment Minister has rejected a partially Rinehart-owned company’s bid to fast-track Queensland gas fields.

A company part-owned by mining magnate Gina Reinhart has been denied a request to fast-track federal environment approvals so it can tap into undeveloped Queensland gas fields it bought at the end of 2021.

Senex, a joint venture between South Korean steel giant Posco and Reinhart’s Hancock Energy, asked the federal environment minister in March 2022 to let it develop two Queensland gas fields without going through the usual environmental approvals process.

Senex argued an exemption would be in the national interest because it would allow Senex to develop the acreage quickly, and aid Australia’s domestic gas supply and energy security issues.

An exemption request is meant to be dealt with within 20 days, but the minister at the time — Sussan Ley — did not make a decision by the deadline of April 21.

New federal Environment Minister Tanya Plibersek, in a decision published late on Monday, said granting the exemption was not in the national interest.

“Having considered all the available information, I have decided not to grant Senex Energy’s requested exemption under the EPBC Act. I was not satisfied that such an exemption was in the national interest,” she said.

“Exempting this proposal from the requirements of the EPBC Act would not provide short-term relief to east-coast gas customers, given that gas supply from this project is at least 15 months away.

“I also understand that given the scale of the project and what is already known about the site, any assessment process under the EPBC Act is likely to be relatively straightforward.”

Senex announced last November it had entered into a binding agreement with Australia Pacific LNG to acquire two undeveloped gas fields in the Surat Basin, right next to its existing holdings.

The tenements, PL209 and PL445, were meant to have an estimated 184PJ of gas and an additional 600PJ though this needed “future appraisal”.

“Initial acquisition cost of $50 million, with a further $30 million payment upon receipt of satisfactory Commonwealth environmental approvals, funded from an acquisition bridge facility and existing cash and debt facilities,” the company stated at the time.

Senex, on August 11, announced a major $1bn expansion of its Queensland gas field, noting it would pump enough resources into the domestic market to cover 40 per cent of the state’s needs.

Chief executive Ian Davies on the day said the project had approvals for two of the three areas which required it and was working on securing the green light for the final acreage.