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Flashback 2008 : Who Pays for the Re-Powering ?

2nd November 2008

Browsing at a newsagent on a mainline railway station…

The question on the front cover of Fortune magazine, Europe edition Number 20, November 2008, already on the stands is “Who Pays for The Bailout ? You do, of course”. Of course, as this Credit Crunch means Bailout argument plays out, the issue of Energy and Climate Change is lost. But the question should be all about how to create a new green economy. Who pays for the re-powering ?

A sign of the greening times – another story teaser on the Fortune magazine advises “10 Green Stocks to Own Now”, and the front of the Independent on Sunday quotes Obama claiming that Energy is his “number one priority” in his bid for presidential election, with his “Apollo” project :-

“Obama’s green jobs revolution : Democrat will lead effort to curb world’s dependence on oil; Plans to create five million new posts in clean energy projects : By Geoffrey Lean in San Francisco and Leonard Doyle in Washington : Sunday, 2 November 2008 : Obama has pledged to create five million new ‘green collar jobs’ if elected : Barack Obama is promising a $150 billion “Apollo project” to bring jobs and energy security to the US through a new alternative energy economy, if his final push for votes brings victory in the presidential election on Tuesday. “That’s going to be my number one priority when I get into office,” Mr Obama has said of his “green recovery” plans. Making his arguments in a radio address yesterday, the Democratic favourite promised: “If you give me your vote on Tuesday, we won’t just win this election. Together, we will change this country and change the world.”…”

Meanwhile…Gordon Brown and Ed Miliband (and Peter Mandelson) get off the plane in Saudi and beg for investment into green energy in the UK :-

“Gulf petrodollars help UK go green : Brown calls for Saudis to give more cash to IMF : Gaby Hinsliff, political editor : The Observer, Sunday 2 November 2008 : The fight against climate change will get an unexpected boost today from oil-rich Gulf states which will pledge to invest some of their petrodollar profits in British green energy projects. The surging oil price over the past year has left parts of the Middle East awash with cash as the rest of the world is squeezed by the credit crunch, making Arab royals some of the few active investors worldwide. The Gulf states have enjoyed a $1.4 trillion windfall from higher oil prices since 2003. Ed Miliband, the Climate Change Secretary, arrived in Saudi Arabia yesterday with Gordon Brown at the start of a tour of the region. He said some of that cash would now ‘help our firms reap the rewards from going low carbon and providing green energy to thousands of families’ under a so-called ‘green Gulf deal’ to be announced today…”

But that’s not the real reason why they are there. Ostensibly, the delegation’s serious business is about asking Saudi and other Arab oil states to contribute more towards the International Monetary Fund :-

“Gordon Brown in the Middle East : Brown hopeful of Saudi cash for IMF : Allegra Stratton in Riyadh, guardian.co.uk, Sunday 2 November 2008 15.30 GMT : Gordon Brown said today he was hopeful of success in his attempts to persuade dollar-rich Gulf states to prop up ailing national economies through a massive injection of capital into the International Monetary Fund (IMF). The prime minister spent three hours in one-to-one talks with Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah, trying to persuade the monarch to invest in a revamped IMF. On the first leg of a four-day visit to the Middle East, and aiming to secure hundreds of billions of dollars for the fund, Brown called off a planned dinner with business leaders accompanying him so as to allow maximum negotiating time with the Saudi king. The IMF currently has around $250 billion in its emergency reserves but there are fears that, with Hungary, Iceland and Ukraine having already sought assistance and more nations expected to follow, the sum might not be sufficient. Brown hopes to persuade Gulf leaders to use some of the estimated $1 trillion they have made from high oil prices in the last few years to boost the reserves, indicating that he would like to see the current sum increased by “hundreds of billions” of dollars. The prime minister said following the talks that he was hopeful of having secured Saudi backing…”

But hang on, what’s this ? :-

“…Brown, who is accompanied by a high-level trade delegation seeking Gulf investment, including the CEOs of BP and Shell…”

What on earth are BP (formerly British Petroleum) and (Royal Dutch) Shell doing in a delegation to the Arab states begging for the IMF charity fund and green energy investment ? Is it that BP and Shell won’t pay for green energy and it’s too hard to ask the British people to pay extra tax, so they’re coming to the Arab countries for a green energy bail-in ? What is going on here ? If OPEC countries are all in the “Axis of Evil”, and no foreign oil and gas companies can get a toehold, why are BP and Shell in the government delegation to Saudi ?

Paying for new energy systems can be expensive. The European Union Emisssions Trading Scheme is saying they want 100% of carbon emissions auctioned by 2013 to pay for larger projects – Carbon Capture and Storage and new Nuclear Power. However, the costly deadweight “white elephant in the room” is not nuclear power, but dead wells.

Are they all talking about Peak Oil in the OPEC Gulf, and proposing business opportunities to the King of the House of Saud to offset the Middle East’s future total loss of business as the wells empty – offering them compensation in the form of green investment deals ? Asking the Saudis to join the green energy race now and get ahead ?

BP and Shell have benefited from the recent rise in the price of oil, profiting even as the oil price has hit millions and created impoverishment. But they’re going to have to spend a very large amount on exploration for new oil and gas from now on. So why is there still resistance to spending more on renewables ? Can BP and Shell ever be convinced to go green ? Would a barrel load of toxic news work ? No. BP and Shell can’t pay for green energy because they have to maintain the profits of their shareholders. Pensions are going to be bad enough without forcing major “British” oil companies to pay for such things as bioethanol, algae biodiesel, solar panels and wind farms.

Action to tackle climate change must be a “tight shadow” on Peak Oil and its fall – tighter than the 9.1% depletion of the largest wells projected by the International Energy Agency (IEA) To reverse the oil decline, and more so to take action on climate change, investment is required. Banks are becoming owned by oil-rich nations, but this is simply a natural outcome of poor financial regulation that led to the Credit Crunch. However, it doesn’t mean that the future will be oil and gas necessarily. This new layer of ownership of financial bodies is not significant, as it will not seriously impact the greening of energy, if people are serious about it.

What is of value here is not banking but energy itself, which underpins the entire economy. The scenario is this : Saudi Arabia will not admit in public that it’s going down because of “Peak Oil”. They would prefer to keep up the revenue, but they’re not “engineering” a reduction of supply. It’s reducing anyway.

From their perspective, allowing supplies to weaken, by not doing any new investment into raising production, would be protecting their reserves to sell in future. A good strategy – even more so as prices rise against losses of supply but strong demand (even despite the blooming recession).

I figure that what BP and Shell are doing in the Middle East is making the case to the major oil-producing states to keep on pumping.

I guess that what Gordon Brown is doing is making the Saudis an offer they can’t refuse – either the major western states will implement measures to control oil prices which would make OPEC lose revenue, or the Saudis can underwrite the global bailout.

This mission is not about green energy investment. It’s about keeping the oil flowing.

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Selling Thorium to China

Kirk Sorensen, formerly of Teledyne Brown Engineering, now of Flibe Energy

To: Claverton Energy Research Group
From: Jo Abbess
Date: 24 June 2011
Subject: “Don’t believe the spin on thorium being a ‘greener’ nuclear option”‏

Hi Clavertonians,

As you are, I’m sure, aware, context is everything.

I was so sure we’d escaped the clutches of the “Thorium Activist Trolls” a few years ago, but no, here they are in resurgence again, and this time they’ve sucked in George Monbiot, Mark Lynas and Stephen Tinsdale, all apparently gullible enough to believe the newly resurrected Generation IV hype campaign.

They should have first done their research on the old Gen IV hype campaign that withered alongside the “Hemp will Save the World, No Really” campaign and the “Biodiesel will Save the World, AND You Can Make it at Home” brigade. Oh, and the Zero Point Energy people.

I was, I admit, quite encouraged by both the Hemp and Biodiesel drives, until I realised they were a deliberate distraction from the Big Picture – how to cope with the necessity of creating an integrated system of truly sustainable energy for the future.

Hemp and Biodiesel became Internet virally transmitted memes around the same time as the Thorium concept, but where did they come from ?

Where does the Thorium meme originate from this time round ? I found some people took to it at The Register, where they spin against Climate Change science a lot – watch the clipped video :-

https://www.theregister.co.uk/2011/02/01/china_thorium_bet/

I would suggest that there are connections between the Thorium campaign and the anti-Climate Change science campaign, and I have some evidence, but I’m too busy to research more in-depth just now, so I’m not going to write it all up yet.

The key issues with all energy options is TIME TO DELIVERY and SCALEABILITY, and I think the option presented by the Thorium fuel cycle fails on both counts.

Yeah, sure, some rich people can devote their life savings to it, and some Departments of Defense (yes, Americans) and their corporate hangers-on can try selling ANOTHER dud technology to China (which is the basis of some Internet energy memes in my view).

Remember Carbon Capture and Storage ? The British Government were very keen on making a Big Thing about CCS – in order to sell it to the miscreant Chinese because (WARNING : CHINA MYTH) China builds 2 !! coal-fired !! power stations a week/day/month !!

THORIUM – A Brief Analysis
TIME TO DELIVERY – 20 to 50 years
SCALEABILITY – unknown
USEFULNESS ASSESSMENT – virtually zero, although it could keep some people on the gravy train, and suck in some Chinese dough

The Tyndall Centre say that global emissions of greenhouse gases have to peak AT THE LATEST by 2020. We should be thinking about rolling out the technology WE ALREADY HAVE to meet that end.

Don’t believe the hype,

jo.

PS What other evidence do we have that the Thorium meme is most likely just a propaganda campaign ? Nick Griffin of the British National Party backs it, and the BNP are widely alleged to promote divisiveness…

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Glenn Beck : “Dangerous and Evil”

https://www.foxnews.com/on-air/glenn-beck/transcript/beck-americas-energy-under-attack

Thank you, Coal.

Thank you for the asthma, the mercury, the mountain top removal, the birth defects, the mine fatalities, the grossly inefficient electricity networks, the lack of investment in electricity networks, the smog, the heat, and above all, thank you for giving us Glenn Beck, on a platter – this is so much fun to watch !

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Steve McIntyre : Plan Beak

[ UPDATE : SKEPTICALSCIENCE HAVE DEBUNKED STEVE McINTYRE. ]

Steve McIntyre, probably the only person on the planet who might grumble about the cost of Barack Obama’s suit rather than his all-American wars, has suddenly become an expert energy engineer, it seems.

This month, he’s taking aim at the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, or IPCC, regarding their special report on Renewable Energy, questioning the contributions of an engineer, Sven Teske, and basing his objections on the fact that Teske works for Greenpeace :-

https://climateaudit.org/2011/06/14/ipcc-wg3-and-the-greenpeace-karaoke/
https://climateaudit.org/2011/06/16/responses-from-ipcc-srren/
https://climateaudit.org/2011/06/18/lynas-questions/
https://climateaudit.org/2011/06/20/the-carbon-brief-a-first-coat-of-whitewash/

Flinging any kind of pseudo-mud he can construe at the IPCC is not Steve’s newest of tricks, but it still seems to be effective, going by the dance of the close cohort of the very few remaining loyal climate change “sceptics” who get published in widely-read media :-

https://www.theregister.co.uk/2011/06/18/lynas_greenpeace_ipcc_money_go_round/
https://www.theregister.co.uk/2011/06/18/lynas_greenpeace_ipcc_money_go_round/page2.html
https://www.nationalpost.com/opinion/columnists/Lost+desmog/4968296/story.html
https://thegwpf.org/the-climate-record/3231-ipcc-used-greenpeace-campaigner-to-write-impartial-report-on-renewable-energy.html
https://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/news/jamesdelingpole/100092809/greenpeace-and-the-ipcc-time-surely-for-a-climate-masada/

He even pulled the turtleneck over Andrew Revkin’s eyes for a while :-
https://dotearth.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/06/15/a-deeper-look-at-an-energy-analysis-raises-big-questions/

And Mark Lynas has been joining in, in his own nit-picky way :-
https://www.marklynas.org/2011/06/new-ipcc-error-renewables-report-conclusion-was-dictated-by-greenpeace/
https://www.marklynas.org/2011/06/questions-the-ipcc-must-now-urgently-answer/
https://www.marklynas.org/2011/06/new-allegation-of-ipcc-renewables-report-bias/
https://www.marklynas.org/2011/06/the-ipcc-renewables-controversy-where-have-we-got-to/

The few comebacks have been bordering on the satirical, or briefly factual, with the exception of Carbon Brief’s very measured analysis of the IPCC’s communication expertise :-
https://www.carbonbrief.org/blog/2011/06/the-ipcc-and-the-srren-report
https://www.jeremyleggett.net/2011/06/mark-lynas-questions-hether-greenpeace-expert-should-be-an-ipcc-author/
https://thinkprogress.org/romm/2011/06/16/246665/ipcc-renewables-2/

Leo Hickman’s being bravely evenhanded :-
https://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/blog/2011/jun/21/peace-talks-climate-change-sceptics

It’s not a total surprise that New Scientist and The Economist wade in deep :-
https://www.newscientist.com/article/dn20583-conflict-of-interest-claimed-for-ipcc-energy-report.html
https://www.economist.com/blogs/babbage/2011/06/ipcc-and-greenpeace

Sven Teske’s explanation has not been accepted by Mark Lynas, although it seems really OK to me :-
https://www.greenpeace.org/international/en/news/Blogs/climate/the-ipccs-renewables-report-finds-a-clean-ene/blog/35322

The Daily Mail digs out the usual emotive terms :-
https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2004440/Leading-climate-change-group-used-Greenpeace-campaigner-write-impartial-report-renewable-energy.html?ito=feeds-newsxml

Steve McIntyre is playing out the “Princess and the Pea” narrative, complaining about a few wrunkles in a process of international collaboration, and distracting us from looking at the actual report, which I would encourage you most warmly to do :-

https://srren.ipcc-wg3.de/
https://srren.ipcc-wg3.de/report

It is full of the most incredible case studies and intriguing engineering discoveries. It makes cautious, conservative calculations, and looks at conditions and caveats in a very transparent manner. For a work that relied on the contributions of over 120 people and managed to compose a document so helpful and illuminating, I’d say it’s a work of profound achievement, and should be read in every school and university. Four scenarios from a collection of 164 are studied in depth to compare their strengths and weaknesses – and the conclusion of the SRREN team is that :-

https://srren.ipcc-wg3.de/press/content/potential-of-renewable-energy-outlined-report-by-the-intergovernmental-panel-on-climate-change

“Close to 80 percent of the world‘s energy supply could be met by renewables by mid-century if backed by the right enabling public policies…”

Somehow, though, Steve McIntyre believes otherwise. I suppose it’s not completely fair to berate him, because he might be suffering from a delusion, given that he seems to believe his opinion trumps that of over a hundred of the world’s authorities on what is possible in Renewable Energy technologies; and I’m the last person who would criticise somebody for having a mental illness.

I’m wondering, however, since he often sticks his nose up at IPCC matters, and since the world is suffering from stress in the supply of fossil fuels, whether he has a “Plan Beak” for the world’s energy crisis ?

Come on Steve McIntyre, tell us what your plan is to provide energy for humanity. Don’t tell me you believe that Nuclear Power is the way forward. I just won’t believe you, and a large number of the citizens of the UK, France, Germany, Japan, Italy and help us all, even Switzerland, would share my doubts.

As everybody can clearly see from the Columbia University graph at the top of this post, the IPCC are right about emissions, and the global warming data shows they’re right about that too. Why should they be wrong about Renewable Energy ?

I mean, I detect there are a few issues with the way the IPCC organises itself, and the style of its reports, but hey, where’s the viable alternative ? I don’t see one, anywhere. And don’t go pointing me to groups with pretensions.

We may just have to get used to complex international bodies, formed of complex, intelligent people, and learn how to read their complex, intricate reports with care and attention. And not get distracted by grumpy semi-retired mining consultants.

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A Green Van for all the People

Green Jobs ! Green Energy !

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Mark Lynas : Turn Turtle

from : Jo Abbess
to : Mark Lynas
cc : George Monbiot
date : Thu, Jun 16, 2011 at 8:07 PM
subject : You may not have properly understood Germany’s energy plan

Dear Mark,

From where I’m sitting, you appear not to have understood Germany’s energy plan, which centres on ramping up and rolling out as much renewable energy as possible.

You are quoted, and write :-

https://us.arevablog.com/2011/06/16/quote-of-the-day-42/
https://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/blog/2011/jun/15/italy-nuclear-referendum

“If the German greens really took climate change seriously, they would instead be pushing for a phase-out of coal – which generates by far the largest proportion of the country’s power and consequent carbon emissions – from Germany’s electricity grid. Instead, the new nuclear phase-out plan will see a hefty 11GW of new coal plants built in years to come, with an additional 5GW of new gas. The only way emissions from these plants could be controlled would be through “carbon capture and storage” (CCS) – yet Greenpeace in Germany has already mounted a successful scaremongering campaign against this new technology, helping to ensure that future fossil emissions will go into the atmosphere unabated.”

How does having strong renewable energy ambition sit with commissioning new coal power plants ?

Well, as you probably know, the wind does not always blow and the sun does not always shine – hence back up is required. Nuclear power cannot back up wind power or solar power because it is not very flexible.

Coal and gas are easily stored, and coal and gas power plants can be kept awaiting use as and when required by renewable lulls.

There is no point in fitting Carbon Capture (and eventually Storage) to coal fired power plants if they’re only going to be used for occasional wind back up – too expensive. And the tests are showing problems. And even though it’s claimed that CCS can take away 90% of the emissions, it’s more like 85% because CCS uses more coal fuel.

It would be better if Germany opted totally for new gas plant for their wind back up, but they appear to not want to be big importers of fossil fuels, so they’ve gone mostly for coal which they can mine, at a pinch, at home. In the UK we’re going for gas, because we believe in continued good relations with Qatar (via the House of Saud ?) and Russia (via BP ?)

The amount of time that coal and gas plants will be in use when renewable energy is fully developed in Gemany will be days per year in total. So in 20 years time when they’ve built all their wind and solar, they get to meet their carbon targets and still have operational coal and gas plant for when necessary.

How is it that you’ve missed this central plank of their policy ?

On the one hand, I could be asked to excuse this lapse of reasoning on your part – as far as I know you haven’t trained as an energy engineer, so how could you be expected to understand load balancing and load following in the real world ?

On the other hand, you’ve just written a book extolling the virtue of nuclear engineering, in effect dismissing the sensible decisions that Germany and other countries have taken, so I cannot let this pass by without commenting.

Sorry to report it, but you’ve just made it into my Little Book of The World’s Most Annoying Men because you appear to have no idea about the pitfalls of nuclear power, you do not seem to understand other approaches to the energy crisis; and in addition, you have built a generalist argument concocted from stereotypes to make the green movement the punch bag for your position. When I read a similar irrational rant in Anthony Giddens’ book “The Politics of Climate Change”, I became so angry, my reptile-inherited brain took over, and I threw the book across the room.

Why, I ask myself, are you following in Giddens’ footsteps and becoming so reactionary ? Are you adopting the position of George Monbiot, who seems to be evolving into a curmudgeon ?

I shall not be buying your new book, because your arguments are, to my mind, faulty.

Regards,

jo.

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James Delingpole : Going Underground

James Delingpole hardly ever sets his delicate foot in Wales, the country he archaically refers to as “the Principality”, apart from, ooh, about ten days a year when he holidays there, but nonetheless, feels he has some kind of inherited ex-colonial right to be affronted that large electricity generation and transmission infrastructure are going to be built there :-

https://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/news/jamesdelingpole/100088906/wales-is-in-danger-why-isnt-the-prince-of-wales-saving-it/

He gets top marks for being rather offensive himself – achingly rude, in fact, about the Welsh Assembly, besides his getting untethered about the wind farms and pylons for the transmission cables :-

“…The wind farms are bad enough on their own. But to make matters far worse […], in order for these bird-crunching, bat-chomping, view-blighting, rent-seeking monstrosities to be connected to the grid a huge 400kv power line is going to be constructed all the way from Montgomeryshire through some of Britain’s most spectacular scenery to the equally beauteous Shropshire…”

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Renewable Gas in the UK

Although variability in Renewable Electricity generation is a real issue, it’s not a huge one, according to recent reports, that from the International Energy Agency (IEA) “Harnessing Variable Renewables” among them :-

https://www.energymatters.com.au/index.php?main_page=news_article&article_id=1533
https://www.iea.org/Textbase/nptoc/Harness_Renewables2011TOC.pdf
https://www.iea.org/Textbase/npsum/Harness_Renewables2011SUM.pdf

Even so, there is a need to improve cheap methods of energy storage – and one of the simplest ways to increase capacity in this area is to produce Renewable Gas – which can be stored as easily as Natural Gas.

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George Monbiot : Wrong Choice

Data Source : IEA via ESDS

This chart shows why George Monbiot, Mark Lynas and Stephen Tinsdale have all plumped for the wrong choice – new Nuclear Power cannot deliver more electricity or reduce carbon dioxide emissions for us at the time when we need it most – the next few years :-

0. Massive energy conservation drives – for demand management – are clearly essential, given the reduction in UK generation.

1. It is impossible to increase new Nuclear Power capacity in less than ten years, but total UK generation is falling now, so now and in the next few years is the timeframe in which to add capacity. We cannot go on relying on Nuclear Power imports from France – especially given the rate of power outages there.

2. The fastest growing generation sources over the next few years will be Wind Power, Solar Power and Renewable Gas – if we set the right policies at the government and regulator levels.

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Renewable Gas #2 : Fugitive urban emissions

Carbon dioxide is not the only greenhouse gas, although it’s the one most scientists worry about on the long term scale. Its diversion out of deep storage into the active global carbon cycle is causing global warming, and that, the evidence strongly shows, is causing widespread and disruptive climate change.

But in short timeframes, methane is the gas on everybody’s worried lips. The sources of methane are affected by global warming, and methane emissions cause strong global warming in the short term, so it’s a positively augmenting feedback, self-amplifying, and causing grave concern in many environmental policy seminars.

People often point the finger at the digestive systems of ruminant livestock when they want to pinpoint a scapegoat for rising methane emissions, but they should perhaps look closer to their own bathrooms and kitchens and their underfloor gas pipelines.

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Cool poverty

They’ve never had it so cold. The British have just shivered through another long, centrally heated winter, and people are receiving enormous gas bills. Social campaigners and parliamentarians are rightly concerned that a clutch of harsher winters and rising energy costs could reverse gains made in tackling fuel poverty. The UK Government’s recent Budget announcement to reduce fuel poverty assistance payments is another blow to maintaining decent and warm homes for the vulnerable, the elderly and children. Proposals to cap the amount that energy companies can charge people in their bills is welcomed by some, but feared by others – as it could jeopardise energy company funding for the Green Deal – a free-to-the-consumer loan scheme for insulation and renewable energy installation. And there’s another problem waiting in the wings. Unlike the United States and Australia, the average British home doesn’t have air conditioning, and it costs real money to install it. If outsized summer heatwaves continue to pop up more frequently in Europe, UK households will face “cool poverty” in summer – a lack of cooling.

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Sunshine power

Solar photovoltaic cells based on semiconductor transistor junctions are becoming cheaper, more efficient and more widely relied upon. Mankind can thrive, drinking in the sunshine.

Yet, the solar power technology of today could still become a minor footnote if there is a revolution in Physics or Chemistry :-

https://socialbarrel.com/solar-power-discovery-dims-future-of-photovoltaic-cells/6382/

“Solar Power Discovery Dims Future of Photovoltaic Cells : Posted by Francis Rey on April 18, 2011 : University of Michigan researchers made a breakthrough discovery on the behavior of light, which could alter solar technology from now on. Professor Stephen Rand, Departments of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, Physics and Applied Physics, and William Fisher, an Applied Physics doctoral student, found out that light, when traveling [sic] through a nonconductive material, such as glass, at the right intensity can produce magnetic fields 100 million times stronger than previously deemed possible. During these conditions, the magnetic field has enough strength to equal a strong electric effect, producing an “optical battery” that leads to “a new kind of solar cell without semiconductors and without absorption to produce charge separation”, Rand said…”

https://detroit.cbslocal.com/2011/04/13/um-says-solar-power-without-solar-cells-is-possible/

https://solar.calfinder.com/blog/solar-research/harnessing-solar-power-without-cells/

Mmm, love that solar radiation !

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The answer, my friend

Curiouser and curiouser…

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Energy Matrix #1 : Are We Ready for Energy Change ?

What is this survey ? This survey is about your views on the future of energy, and the changes that will take place. Why take part in this survey ? If you spend 15 to 20 minutes to give your opinion of the 30 statements in this survey, you will be contributing to an ambitious university study.

Please give yourself 15 to 20 minutes to complete the survey. With each statement, please click the option that best matches your view. Please don’t forget to answer the general questions at the end, which will help with making the final report.

NUCLEAR POWER

OIL (TRANSPORT)

RENEWABLE ENERGY

NATURAL GAS

COAL POWER

Background Information Please give a few brief details about what kind of person you are, to help us check that a representative sample of people have answered the survey.

What region are you living in ?
How old are you ?
What gender are you ?
How do you prefer to keep up to date with science ?

Is Climate Change really happening ?
Is Peak Oil really happening ?
Do you know a lot about energy  ?
Enter your e-mail address if you want the final results

General Questions This is your chance to explain in more detail what you think, and add any comments you would like to make. For starters, here are some sample questions you might have ideas about :-
1. In your view, what will be the most major change in energy systems in the next 20 years ?
2. Who is responsible for making significant change to the energy systems ?
3. How will the major changes in energy systems be paid for ?

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Libya Futures

Outside the usual political and media circles, questions are being asked. Why has the United Nations sanctioned military engagement in Libya in the form of UN Security Council Resolution 1973 ? Why the heavy firepower here, in Libya, when the ostensible rationale for intervention was only to implement a No-Fly Zone ? Why not gloibal military action elsewhere in the Middle East North Africa (MENA) arena where there are other despots making life unpleasant or endable for their citizens ?

I present to you two possible futures for Libya, both of which will require extensive cooperation with foreign corporate and political players, something that Muammar Abu Minyar al-Gaddafi (or Qaddafi) threatens, or rather, depending on various news reports, “threatened”.

1. The Dash for African and Arabic Natural Gas (and Oil)

In a carbon-constrained world Natural Gas is a boon – it has roughly half the carbon dioxide emissions of coal when burned to produce steam to generate electricity. Any country that’s got Natural Gas, especially good quality Natural Gas that doesn’t have to be hydraulically “fractured” from rock strata, is a country we will learn to love and trade on significantly generous terms with.

There has been extensive surveying of Libya, and the whole of North Africa’s Maghreb region, including the type of offshore seismic surveying that found extensive gas fields in the Eastern Mediterranean that Israel is now laying claim to (and preventing Gaza from exploiting). This has led to quite a lot of excitement in the fossil fuel energy industry, so, reading between the lines of the conference agendas, there is high dollar value under Libya’s maritime territory :-

https://www.geolsoc.org.uk/gsl/site/GSL/lang/en/page7792.html
https://www.geolibya.org/evdetails.asp?Myval=36

In addition to Natural Gas there may well be high levels of top quality oil – and keeping up the flow of crude oil, as we all know, is crucial to the health of the world’s economy. Threats of re-nationalising the Libyan fossil fuel resources therefore caused corporate shock :-

https://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/67d1d02a-5314-11e0-86e6-00144feab49a.html#axzz1HKdP1z5V

“Oil companies fear nationalisation in Libya : By Sylvia Pfeifer and Javier Blas in London : Published: March 20 2011 : Western oil companies operating in Libya have privately warned that their operations in the country may be nationalised if Colonel Muammer Gaddafi’s regime prevails. Executives, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the rapidly moving situation, believe their companies could be targeted, especially if their home countries are taking part in air strikes against Mr Gaddafi. Allied forces from France, the UK and the US on Saturday unleashed a series of strikes against military targets in Libya. “It is certainly a concern. There are good reserves there,” said one executive at a western oil company with operations in Libya. “We have lost some of our production [because all operations have stopped] but our bigger concern is what will happen to the exploratory work as that gives you a future rather than the immediate impact,” he added. Most of the world’s large international oil companies have producing assets in Libya, including Spain’s Repsol, France’s Total, and Italy’s Eni, which is the largest single investor there. Germany’s Winstershall – a unit of BASF – and OMV of Austria are also present. The country is the world’s 12th largest oil exporter, and the escalating violence there has triggered a jump in prices to nearly $120 a barrel. More than half of Libya’s oil was exported to Italy, Germany and France last year…”

BP had to evacuate its staff, and extend a favour to some British citizens, during the recent uprising :-
https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/africaandindianocean/libya/8344391/Libya-Britain-borrows-BP-jet-to-evacuate-citizens.html

Production in the country has taken a hit due to the fighting, but order should soon be restored. Clearly, long-term stability in Libya, with unhindered, inexpensive access to the country’s oil and gas resources is an important part of the national security interests of many Western democracies.

2. Solar Libya

https://www.desertec.org/en/global-mission/milestones/

The DESERTEC project of the European Union seeks to roll out solar power in the desert sands of North Africa, and makes the promise of economic and social development of the countries that take part, although that dream has been questioned :-

https://www.ceu.hu/theses/1/2010/the-desertec-project-a-new-resource-curse-for-countries-in-north-africa-and-the-middle

Let’s face the facts here – massive new energy projects in North Africa will be financed and developed through large multinational, transnational corporations, companies who have contributed to the economic slavery of Africa for, let’s approximate here, centuries.

What guarantees can the Maghreb have that this is not a further land grab on Africa’s potential ?

In addition, the recent social and political volatility in the Middle East North Africa region could jeopardise the noble plans of the European Union to reach out in energy partnership.

Hang on. Wait a minute. Is the wave of uprisings across the Middle East and North Africa connected in any way to the interests of oil and gas companies who want Future #1 to prevail for the whole region, not just Libya ?

American companies have been so keen to sell nuclear electricity projects to Saudi Arabia and others around the Arabian Gulf – but has this been encouraged from the high-ups to keep the Arabs off the scent of Renewable Energy ? Forget nuclear power – it’s expensive and awkward. Iran only pursues civilian nuclear power to irritate the United States Government. A solar Arabia could give the Middle East and North Africa a second generation of being the energy princes of the world. I suspect they will go for this in a big way very shortly, uprisings or no uprisings. Why ? Two little words – Fukushima Daiichi.

So there we have it – two entirely probable, slightly competing, futures being mapped out for Libya by the big guns of NATO (a euphemism for the USA). If Libya is split into two countries, the fossil fuel Future #1 will be likely applied to East Libya, and the desert solar Future #2 will be foisted on West Libya.

Continued interference in the country is a certainty.

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Pakistan : Inundation Nation

[ UPDATE : Don’t tell me. I know the images are mostly from India, but the music is Punjabi… ]

https://www.thenews.com.pk/TodaysPrintDetail.aspx?ID=32170&Cat=6&dt=2/21/2011

“Draft of national climate change policy finalised : Noor Aftab : Monday, February 21, 2011 : Islamabad : The draft of National Climate Change Policy has been finalised after two years of deliberations and now the Environment Ministry would present it to the federal cabinet for final approval, the sources told The News here on Sunday. The sources said the recommendations in the draft would certainly test the government’s commitment as it has been proposed to go for alternative energy resources instead of using fossil fuel, considered one of the major reasons for environmental degradation. The sources said the draft recommendations prepared by a core group of the Environment Ministry mainly focuses on two areas including adaptation and mitigation with an aim to enable the country to cope with fast increasing environmental challenges. One of the top officials of the Environment Ministry told this correspondent that continuity of casual approach towards environmental sector has now made economic managers and policy makers feel the heat as environmental degradation has started costing five per cent of gross domestic product (GDP) in Pakistan…”

“Sunday, February 20, 2011 : UK to keep helping Pakistan’s flood victims: Sayeeda Warsi : LAHORE: Baroness Sayeeda Warsi, a British cabinet minister of Pakistani-origin, said on Saturday that the United Kingdom would continue supporting Pakistan in the post-flood operations. “Today I have been heartened to see and hear how the UK is helping millions of people in Pakistan rebuild their lives, but there is much more to do, with widespread malnutrition and the risk of disease outbreaks,” Warsi said while talking to reporters in Islamabad. The primary purpose of Warsi’s visit to Pakistan is to learn how the country is recovering, what more needs to be done, and to see how more than Rs 27.7 billion from British people is supporting the flood victims. “When I was here exactly six months ago in August at the peak of the floods with the UK International Development Secretary Andrew Mitchell I saw scenes of devastation,” the British lawmaker recalled. She said that some areas of Sindh were still under water, adding that reconstruction of millions of houses, bridges and schools that were destroyed would take years…”

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Glimpsing the Future

Can we glimpse the future of energy ?

Ambient, sustainable energy is all around us, and sooner or
later we will find the ways to make use of it for the good of all.

The following is an appropriately edited transcript of a
conversation on the Claverton Energy Research Group
forum online, and was written by Nick Balmer, a consultant
in renewable energy.
__________________________________________________________

…The huge scale of the possible changes for all concerned is
causing all of the current Titans in the [energy] industry to deploy
the full force of the media [and their] PR [public relations] in an
attempt to manipulate the public and policy towards their own way
of thinking, or in such a way as to protect their own vested interests.

The great thing is that these issues are being aired out in the open,
and groups like [Claverton Energy Research Group forum] allow
people with knowledge of these affairs to debate these issues openly.

The big problem is that each of us has only a very detailed
understanding of some small fraction of the total issue.

Most of the public and government only has a very slight knowledge
of the total issue, and has had only limited access to ways to find out
in detail what is going on.

As Egypt is demonstrating today, everybody now has a voice and as
Wikileaks shows, sooner or later everything will come out into the
open.

All of us are struggling to come to terms with this explosion of
access to knowledge.

It is quite clear that lots of bubbles are being burst as a result of
the Global Financial implosion and the huge expansion in available
knowledge.

Just as banking and property has been shown to be an unaffordable
Ponzi scheme and to be vastly over-inflated, UK energy policy is now
coming under huge scrutiny.

We can now compare our energy systems with other countries.

Due to the huge geological accident of fate, since the 1700’s in coal,
and 1970’s in oil and gas, we have been extremely fortunate in being
able to live way beyond the lifestyle standards of most of the World.

We have not had to adapt.

Other countries that didn’t have this advantage had to change over
recent decades.

Places like Denmark, Austria, Germany [and so on] have made huge
changes because they had less energy from fossil resources.

Now we have reached the peak or crunch point, we find ourselves well
behind those countries that had to adapt earlier.

Everybody is concentrating on the Capital cost of deploying per
MW [megawatt] and overlooks the cost of fuels.

The cost of fuels over time is massively more important than the
CAPEX [capital expenditure on investment].

So even if windfarms cost 20 times per MW or GW [gigawatt] more to
build than nuclear or coal or gas, in the scheme of things,
[wind power] is always going to win, because the fuel is free and
unlimited for centuries to come.

Similarly [solar power technologies], or even more effective,
household insulation and cutting energy use.

And yet the media and government are blinded by the barrage of PR
and media from the energy vested interests who are working with
every muscle to stop this coming out into the open.

I often meet financiers in my work trying to promote and support AD
[anaerobic digestion of biological waste for the production of
renewable methane], biomass, solar and wind projects.

I am always struggling to prove to them that I have an offtake [return
on investment] and the fuel supply. This is often really hard to do
[but] I only have to do this for seven to 12 years to make my business
cases stack up.

I was really depressed at the end of one such presentation and
discussion, when one broadly sympathetic banker who had turned me
down said that he was having even worse problems with largescale
energy projects.

How do you predict the price and supply of coal forward for 25 years
or more ?

It has jumped 17% in recent months.

How do you prove that you are going to have offtake for huge power
stations in future years ?

Demand dropped 8% in 2009.

How do you raise the equity or debt for a billion [pound] project when
banks don’t want to lend more than £30 million each ? Imagine how
many banks that would take ?

We have reached a tipping point in our economy, sustainability and
future outlook.

Yes, the existing mega-power companies are fighting as hard as
Mubarak today to hold onto power, but they represent the past just
as surely as he does.

Those companies can rejuvenate themselves, unlike the Egyptian
President.

If they don’t, there are an increasingly large number of smaller and
more active players coming into the market.

The average household pays somewhere around £1,300 a year for
its heating and lighting.

The companies that come forward with a way to do that for £1,000 is
going to capture the market very quickly.

I have friends in Austria who only pay 65 Euros for services that I
pay £1,400 for.

They do this through insulation, triple glazing, solar and biomass energy.

Most [UK] households have less than £400 per year discretionary
disposable income. This prevents them making changes to their houses
they desperately want and know they need to make.
This can
drop their energy demands hugely.

If somebody can unlock that Gordian Knot the benefits would be
enormous as there are something like 27 million households.

At a time when household debt is at an all-time high, incomes are
shrinking, and 40% live on ether government salaries, state
pensions or benefits.

Energy is a very high part of these households’ outgoings – if you
pay £1,300 a year and your house only brings in £11,000 to £20,000
per year.

A 50% increase in the £1,300 could bring great distress, and
possibly even civil unrest here.

The increases fossil power [companies] need to make their systems
bankable will increase energy bills. This will feed straight through into
government liabilities because 40% of us live on government payouts.

If government can drop the cost of heating and lighting quite easily
by £100 to £500 per household per year while at the same time
provide employment for hundreds of thousands of White Van men
cutting energy uses, doesn’t this make far more sense than building
unsustainable power stations that will have to be [bankrolled] by the
government, who will then have to buy back electricity at a price our
communities cannot stand ?

Project a similar calculation onto transport fuels and you get even
greater problems.

At $80 a barrel [of oil] industry is shrinking and relatively few
renewable fuel business cases work. At $100 a barrel most renewable
fuels can compete.

At $120 a barrel almost any alternative beats oil, and that is before
you start to look at issues like fuel security and the environment.

Although the battle is one of David and Goliath, or the Dinosaur and
those early mammals, between the new energy industries and the
existing vested energy industries, [it] has only one outcome.

It is only a matter of the co-lateral damage along the way.

Like Mubarak, it is clear they must go. Are they going to go
gracefully, or are they going to smash the place up first ?

Nick Balmer
Renewable Energy Consultant

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Fossil Fuel Aid

Video Credit : Peter Sinclair

Creating a level playing field for Renewable Energy by removing Fossil Fuel subsidies is an excellent idea, as mooted by the International Energy Agency :-

https://www.businessgreen.com/bg/news/1802530/iea-reveals-fossil-fuel-subsidies-usd550bn

“IEA reveals fossil fuel subsidies top $550bn : Report warns kick-backs for fossil fuels are skewing energy markets and holding back renewables investment : By Andrew Donoghue 08 June 2010 : The global fossil fuel industry currently enjoys subsidies worth more than $550bn (£382bn) a year, according to a major new report from the International Energy Agency (IEA) that will increase pressure on world leaders to phase out fossil fuel subsidies ahead of a crucial meeting of the G20 group of nations later this month. The research, which was released at a meeting of G20 finance ministers in Busan, South Korea over the weekend, reveals fossil fuel subsidies amounted to $557bn in 2008 – up from $342bn in 2007. Enormous subsidies are skewing energy markets and inhibiting the uptake of more sustainable energy sources, the IEA warned. “The IEA analysis highlights that the price signal from subsidy phase-out would provide an incentive to use energy more efficiently, and trigger switching from fossil fuels to other fuels that emit fewer GHGs,” the report said…”

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/2010-07-29/fossil-fuel-subsidies-are-12-times-support-for-renewables-study-shows.html

“Fossil Fuel Subsidies Are 12 Times Support for Renewables, Study Shows : By Alex Morales – 29 July 2010 : Global subsidies for fossil fuels dwarf support given to renewable energy sources such as wind and solar power and biofuels, Bloomberg New Energy Finance said. Governments last year gave $43 billion to $46 billion of support to renewable energy through tax credits, guaranteed electricity prices known as feed-in tariffs and alternative energy credits, the London-based research group said today in a statement. That compares with the $557 billion that the International Energy Agency last month said was spent to subsidize fossil fuels in 2008. “One of the reasons the clean energy sector is starved of funding is because mainstream investors worry that renewable energy only works with direct government support,” said Michael Liebreich, chief executive of New Energy Finance. “This analysis shows that the global direct subsidy for fossil fuels is around ten times the subsidy for renewables.”…”

Here are some relevant documents :-

https://www.iea.org/weo/docs/second_joint_report.pdf
https://www.worldenergyoutlook.org/docs/G20_Subsidy_Joint_Report.pdf
https://www.iea.org/papers/2002/reforming.pdf
https://www.iea.org/textbase/nppdf/free/1990/weo1999.pdf

Barack Obama and the G20 first made a serious call for the removal of Fossil Fuel subsidies back in 2009 :-

https://www.reuters.com/article/2009/09/26/us-g20-energy-idUSTRE58O18U20090926

“G20 agrees on phase-out of fossil fuel subsidies : 25 September 2009 : The world’s largest economies agreed on Friday to phase out subsidies for oil and other carbon dioxide-spewing fossil fuels in the “medium term” as part of efforts to combat global warming. But Group of 20 leaders at a two-day summit meeting here did not advance discussions about financial aid for developing nations dealing with climate change, exacerbating concerns that U.N. talks to form a new climate pact are in peril. Some $300 billion a year is spent worldwide to subsidize fuel prices, boosting demand in many nations by keeping prices artificially low and, thus, leading to more emissions. The agreement — backed by all of the G20 including Russia, India and China — was a victory for U.S. President Barack Obama, whose credentials for fighting climate change have been marred by dimming prospects that the U.S. Senate will pass a bill to reduce emissions before the December U.N. meeting…”

Seems like it’s a done deal…apart from an issue that should never be forgotten in all global negotiations : economic development.

India, for example, has a policy to keep down the price of diesel fuel – a strategy to promote economic development. They won’t be ready to cut subsidies :-

https://www.sify.com/news/diesel-subsidy-withdrawal-unaffordable-says-minister-news-national-lcesEkcgeee.html

“Diesel subsidy withdrawal unaffordable, says minister : 04 February 2011 : New Delhi: India cannot afford to withdraw the subsidy on diesel and it has to continue till poverty disappears from the country, union Minister for New and Renewable Energy Farooq Abdullah said on Friday. Speaking at the Delhi Sustainable Development Summit here, Abdullah said India gives a lot of subsidy on diesel and, if withdrawn, it will only increase inflation. ‘Diesel subsidy has to continue till poverty disappears from the country,’ he said while reacting to Canadian parliamentarian Stephane Dion’s appeal to phase out diesel subsidy…”

The Americans and the Europeans calling for an end to fossil fuel subsidies could be interpreted as a lever to block the economic development of the Global South – as much of the price-fixing is conducted by developing nations.

It could be argued that the United States and “her allies” want to retain economic dominance – what better way than blocking economic progress in the Global South and making it appear to be a Climate Change measure ?

In addition, much of the financial support for energy projects in the Global South is indirectly awarded to the fossil fuel industry via the international aid cash coming from developed nations and the international agencies. And the fossil fuel producers and engineering companies are not going to be willing to let that source of revenue dry up.

If international aid for energy projects gets stopped, so does a lot of economic development until “technology transfer” of Renewable Energy can be ramped up :-

https://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/environment/article6836112.ece

https://www.guardian.co.uk/business/2010/apr/09/world-bank-criticised-over-power-station

Before they came to power in the United Kingdom, the Conservative Party were strongly behind the proposals to stop international development loans going on dirty energy projects :-

https://www.conservatives.com/News/Speeches/2009/11/…

“23 November 2009 : Andrew Mitchell: Ending Labour’s support for polluting energy projects : …we must end the use of the Export Credit Guarantee Department to promote ‘dirty’ fossil fuel power stations around the world, and instead make it a champion of green technology…”

https://www.businessgreen.com/bg/news/1803148/conservatives-pledge-stop-uk-fossil-fuel-subsidies

This promise has not been kept, according to the Jubilee Debt Campaign :-

https://www.jubileedebtcampaign.org.uk/…

“Lord Green told: Britain’s exports must stop harming people and planet : 24 January 2011 : New report details string of ‘dodgy deals’ at export support body : As new Trade Minister Stephen Green embarks on a national tour to promote British exports, Jubilee Debt Campaign warns that Britain’s export support body is not up to the job : A report released by the organisation today exposes a history of backing projects by large corporations in a handful of controversial sectors. The projects have led to human rights abuses, environmental destruction and corruption in the developing world, and often failed to deliver even on their stated aims. Britain’s export promotion body, the Export Credits Guarantee Department (ECGD), has also undermined Britain’s international development goals by leaving countries like Kenya, Vietnam, Indonesia and Pakistan with £2 billion of debts from failed export deals – 96% of Third World Debt ‘owed’ to the UK today…The Coalition government has failed to act on its pledge to end fossil fuel subsidies through the ECGD, despite taking action to beef up the Department’s role…”

The key global development question remains – is cutting fossil fuel subsidies yet another (underhand) way of reducing international aid budgets ?

To deflect criticism, the spotlight will probably be turned on countries like Iran :-

Image Credit : International Energy Agency

https://www.globe-net.com/articles/2010/june/8/getting-the-prices-right-cutting-subsidies-could-save-billions-.aspx?sub=12

“Getting the Prices Right – Cutting Subsidies Could Save Billions : 8 June 2010 : Global fossil fuel consumption subsidies in 2008 were much higher than previously estimated and totalled USD557 billion, according to IEA analysis…The IEA has undertaken an extensive survey to identify countries that offer subsidies that reduce prices of fossil fuels below levels that would prevail in an undistorted market, thus leading to higher levels of consumption than would occur in their absence. The survey identified 37 countries and it is estimated that these represent over 95% of global subsidized fossil‐fuel consumption…The IEA analysis has revealed that fossil fuel consumption subsidies amounted to $557 bn in 2008. This represents a big increase from $342 bn in 2007…Since 2008, a number of countries – including China, Russia, India and Indonesia – have made notable reforms to bring their domestic energy prices in line with world prices…The country with the highest subsidies in 2008 was Iran at $101 billion, or around a third of the country’s annual central budget. Chronic under‐pricing of domestic energy in Iran has resulted in enormous subsidies and a major burden on the economy that is forcing reliance on imports of refined products. Iran’s leadership came to agreement in 2010 on a sweeping plan for energy subsidy reform; however, steep economic, political and social hurdles will need to be overcome if Iran is to realize lasting reform…”

Obama says we have to drop fossil fuel subsidies. The next thing you know, the inaccuracies start flying :-

https://climateprogress.org/2011/02/04/manchin-coal-subsidies%E2%80%99/

“Manchin claims coal “doesn’t get a penny of subsidies” : In fact, the industry gets trillions of pennies : 4 February 2011 : Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV), the newest member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, claimed today that the coal industry doesn’t receive any government subsidies, unlike every other form of energy. Brad Johnson debunks this absurd claim…”

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Market Tinkering

The Conservative and Liberal Democrat Coalition Government in the United Kingdom have several competing interests to juggle when it comes to the electricity generation industry.

Any proposed tinkering in the electricity market will need to show it still promotes competition (even though new entrants will probably complain they can’t compete in auctions), even as it guarantees safe and stable power supplies, even as it needs to make sure consumers don’t get ripped off.

The Department of Energy and Climate Change have published a clearly-written consultation document on their proposals for an Electricity Market Reform (EMR), detailing various methods of intervening to ensure long-term objectives on carbon emissions and energy security :-

https://www.decc.gov.uk/en/content/cms/consultations/emr/emr.aspx

I’ve been reading some really helpful commentary on the system-wide effects of these proposals :-

https://www.decc.gov.uk/assets/decc/Consultations/emr/1043-emr-analysis-policy-options.pdf

https://www.parliamentarybrief.com/2011/01/thumbs-up-a-little-early-for-that-mr-huhne#all

So far, my conclusion is that the net effect of these proposals will be to make the electricity generators feel secure about future earnings.

I’m not convinced that anything I’ve read so far will help energy supply companies feel willing to leap the expensive investment hurdle to ensure the UK gets new low carbon power plants.

I’m not even sure if the carbon and power pricing described will deter companies from dirty power generation and direct them towards new low carbon investment.

When I happened on the levelised cost of power in the main DECC analysis document, I came to a very pragmatic conclusion :-

https://www.decc.gov.uk/assets/decc/Consultations/emr/1041-electricity-market-reform-condoc.pdf

Figure 2 (see top) shows that FOAK (first of a kind) new nuclear reactor plant designs (which is what we are told we will be getting in the UK) are probably going to yield similar unit electricity price values to Onshore Wind Power and Combined Cycle Gas Turbine (CCGT) plant using Natural Gas feedstock.

My question is : why do we need to intervene with the electricity market to incentivise low carbon generation if the cheapest technologies are the low carbon options anyway ? (Yes, I’ve deliberately forgotten to discuss Carbon Capture and Storage).

My second question is : are the financial instruments proposed for the electricity market simply a sop to the electricity generators to leverage investment in new and efficient low carbon power stations ? Come and invest in new power generation in Great Britain and see your earnings stable (or rising) !

And my third question is this : don’t the NIMBY campaigns against Onshore Wind Power realise their success means that the overall cost of electricity to the consumers will rise significantly as wind power has to move offshore ?

My conclusion is : it would be far cheaper simply to instruct the largely publicly owned banks to make investment finance available, but only for low carbon technologies and forget about trying to maintain the facade of a free market.

Power supply is virtually a monopoly – and the State is bound to maintain supply – DECC have even got proposals on the table in their main Energy Bill to buy up any power companies that fail…yet another bailout !

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Australia : Inundation Nation (2)

The key question tonight in Queensland is : how safe can we make the house before morning ?

The second key question that should tonight be asked in Queensland Australia is : are the damages from Climate Change likely to be more expensive than changing our energy sources to stop it ?

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-pacific-12294834

“27 January 2011 : Australia floods: PM Julia Gillard unveils new tax : Julia Gillard announces the details of the new tax : Australia’s Prime Minister Julia Gillard has announced a new tax to help pay for devastating floods that she says will cost A$5.6bn ($5.6bn; £3.5bn) in reconstruction. Ms Gillard said the 12-month tax, starting from 1 July, would be levied on those earning A$50,000 or more, and those affected by floods would not pay. “We should not put off to tomorrow what we are able to do today,” she said…”

https://www.smh.com.au/environment/weather/gillard-warms-to-permanent-disaster-fund-20110131-1ab4z.html

“Gillard warms to permanent disaster fund : Phillip Coorey : February 1, 2011 : THE Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, is prepared to entertain the idea of a permanent natural disaster fund if it helps win the support of key independents in both houses. But she is not prepared to bend on the details of her one-off $1.8 billion levy to help with flood reparations in Queensland. As negotiations began with independents yesterday before the legislation for the flood measures is tabled in Parliament next week, Ms Gillard would not rule out a permanent fund. ”We’re happy to have a conversation about the longer term,” she said. But the floods, she said, were ”an extraordinary circumstance which requires a response in the short term”…”

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Values, Schmalues

Image Credit : Climate Safety

As an experiment with the notion of “common values”, I recently sat in a cinema with a bunch of my fellow citizens and inhaled the film “The King’s Speech”.

They laughed with the jokes (as in fact I did, right on cue), mourned with the pain (which gave me cause for reflection, too); and gave a huge round of applause at the end.

And you know what, I could have been swept along and joined them, apart from one observation.

The triumph of the central character over his physical disability, the applause he received, both at the time and in the cinema, this was all whilst giving a message that the country was about to commence widescale violence towards another country – the declaration of war.

Everybody was cheering for war. I couldn’t join in.

It is to the good memory of David Fleming that I recommend you read his last published work, co-written with Transition Towns’ Shaun Chamberlin, “Tradable Energy Quotas : A Policy Framework for Peak Oil and Climate Change” :-

https://teqs.net/report/

Amidst all the psycho-sociological arguments being waged by political theorists and campaigny people about changing peoples’ values, and whether that’s right/useful or not, one plain fact should emerge like a tree to clutch in a flash flood – people respond to rules.

If the rules of the game are that we should reduce our carbon dioxide emissions by 80% by 2050, and everybody, including the energy production companies, are required to play a significant role, this fact alone establishes “common cause” and creates a framework for action.

Although the Climate Change Act is the law – a piece of legislation – it has yet to be fleshed out. Until it becomes clear what the exact policies, measures and instruments will be, agreed and implemented, there will continue to be massive amounts of flailing and flapping about, scepticism, recalcitrance, dogma and complaining.

When it becomes clear what the framework for the energy industry, big business and social provision will be, then people will knuckle down and accept the inevitable.

I’m not arguing for eco-fascism – far from it. Mistakes in policy are all too possible, and so strong engagement is required, far beyond the token democracy we are currently permitted to take part in. Taking part in a government consultation on energy and carbon emissions is about as effective as waving a placard in the direction of Downing Street, except you don’t run the risk of getting arrested for it.

The only thing the public are currently permitted to do is cut their own domestic emissions. They’re not allowed to have a say about what business or government do about emissions.

Yet despite this complete absence of public involvement, there are signs of progress. Once we have managed to fight our way through the windstorm of nonsensical technological “fixes” that are worse than useless; once we have some educated people in the Government and the Civil Service – education on matters of engineering rather than humanities; then we can start to see sense from the top.

Urgent request from the floor : please can the Government and industry please stop alienating people with calls for consumers to change their behaviour. It’s producing resistance, and that is a threat to progress on reducing emissions.

What do I think about changing values ? I don’t believe “we” should try to change values or behaviour. That amounts to manipulation in my view.

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Ethical Investment

I met several people in the finance-with-conscience crowd the other week, when I went for a spot of champers and Marmite soldiers at the House of Commons for National Ethical Investment Week.

I learned about various views on social and positive impact investment, and about elements of the Coalition Government’s “Big Society” and the proposed Green Investment Bank.

Ethical Investment appears to have come a long way since I put some money into a Fair Trade company many moons ago, where I knew I would never see a dividend, or even be able to sell the shares at some point.

Grown up people in sharp suits and big name frocks now do moral banking, and often reap a healthy return on their investment – “doing well” as well as “doing good”, as Adam Ognall of UK Sustainable Investment and Finance says.

I was challenged to think about what faith communities do with their money around a month ago, all precipitated by a conversation I had with Martin Palmer of the Alliance of Conservation and Religions, and then I heard something at a recent meeting that caused me to investigate a little…

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A Fairy Castle of Froth

Well, it would seem the wheels have definitely come off the Climate Change sceptic-denier trolley bus, and the passengers are raving, and metaphorically drowning in their own pus-riddled intellectual bile, judging by the spluttered, splattered comments I am receiving on this web log.

Wegman is going down (the anti-science, anti-Hockey Stick Wegman Report, you understand, not the man himself) – and I mean down; down to the depths of dissmissal and reproach, and scorn mountains will be heaped, and his “strange scholarship” will be ribbed and ridiculed and his assertions and claims fobbed off for ever more, it seems, by those whose opinions really count :-

https://deepclimate.org/2010/11/16/replication-and-due-diligence-wegman-style/

https://deepclimate.org/2010/09/26/strange-scholarship-wegman-report/

https://climatechangepsychology.blogspot.com/2010/11/turns-out-climate-skeptics-favorite.html

“Turns out climate skeptics’ favorite report (the Wegman Report) might not be as scientific as Congressman Joe Barton claims…”

We’re talking pit-wise plumbing here, the nether reaches of the pile of tried-and-rejected hypotheses. We’re talking dearie-dearie-me, what a mess have we got here, then ? :-

https://climateprogress.org/2010/11/21/wegman-exposed-experts-find-shocking-plagiarism-in-2006-climate-report-requested-by-joe-barton-r-tx/

Michael Mann was right. You, dear sceptic-deniers, are wrong. Even the Daily Mail newspaper says so, and don’t retort that, of course, the Daily Maelstrom is not exactly the Source of All Validity, and testily question why I trust the Daily Maul when it agrees with me, and not otherwise :-

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1332347/Influential-climate-change-report-copied-Wikipedia.html?ito=feeds-newsxml

“Influential climate change report ‘was copied from Wikipedia’ : By DAILY MAIL REPORTER : 23rd November 2010 : Research questioning the validity of global warming was copied from Wikipedia and textbooks, it has been claimed. A report by statistician Edward Wegman criticised earlier research led by scientist Michael Mann that said global temperatures were highest in the last century than the previous 1,000 years. But according to plagiarism experts, ‘significant’ sections of the 91-page report were lifted from ‘textbooks, Wikipedia and the writings of one of the scientists criticised in the report’…”

You can take or leave your truth universe, and the Daily Mall certainly does that, but I’ll stick with the data, thanks, the hard-won, carefully-kept, un-fudged, un-compromised actual measurements…

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The New Climate Alliance

Green jobs, green energy, greening communities.

Forget Nigel Lawson and his struggle to keep the British energy system in the privatised 1980s by denying the realities of Climate Change.

The lords (and sadly, some of the ladies) of this land want to stay rich from their shares in fossil fuels and mining. They’ll say anything to protect the value of their holdings.

But where’s your new North Sea Oil and Gas, Nigel ? Do you want to bankrupt this country by forcing us to ramp up our imports of energy as the North Sea production falls away ?

The chief executives of the “traditional” energy companies of these islands are just trying to keep themselves in a job when they decry wind power, biogas, marine energy projects.

No, Vincent de Rivaz of EdF, we don’t want expensive, inflexible and toxic Nuclear Power. No, Dorothy Thompson of Drax, we don’t want dirty coal continuing to heat up the world, poison fish and raise coughing kids. No, Rupert Soames of Aggreko, we must maintain the Renewable Energy obligations we have agreed at the European level, and raise the bar even higher, to protect the economy going into an uncertain future, by having homegrown energy.

We need an energy evolution in this country.

And so, what is needed is a social movement – involving ordinary, working people, unions, communities, academics, trained professionals from the engineering trades, local political activists and faith communities.

This is the emergence of Green Power.