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The Dangerous Fantasy of Scotland’s Net Zero Energy Transition

The Dangerous Fantasy of Scotland’s Net Zero Energy Transition

Motivated by the moral necessity and urgency of this goal, the Scottish Government is proposing a novel energy policy – its “Energy Strategy and Just Transition Plan”.

This article reviews its major themes and their implications, and considers briefly the probability of success of the Scottish Government implementing it.

In 2022, due to an insufficient quantity of wind and sun, Scotland’s current collection of wind and solar energy-scavenging devices failed to generate about 70% of their nameplate capacity. Recent exhaustive statistical and econometric analysis of wind generation in Scotland by Edinburgh University shows that it is uneconomic and destined for taxpayer bailout. Under the Scottish Government’s novel energy strategy, wind and solar energy-scavenging devices are to be greatly expanded.

Hydrogen, an energy carrier that squanders in waste-heat a gigawatt of power generation for every gigawatt it carries, is elevated in the Scottish Government’s understanding of energy to the category of a fuel, and also greatly expanded.

Hydrocarbon and nuclear – actual fuels – provide the energy to manufacture and endlessly replace wind turbines and solar panels. They also, in Scotland, provide the power sources that run under all conditions to ensure continuity of energy supply during Scotland’s frequent sunless and windless conditions. These are to be discontinued.

Like all advanced economies, Scotland cannot tolerate even a small measure of power supply fluctuation. Without firm dispatchable thermal standby generation capacity to smooth supply fluctuation, the eventual daily around 40GW amplitude power fluctuation resulting from the proposed expansion of weather-dependent electrical generation must be adapted for use in some other way…

…click on the above link to read the rest…

Glencore Says This Time Is Different for Coming Copper Shortage

Glencore Says This Time Is Different for Coming Copper Shortage

(Bloomberg) — Glencore Plc added its voice to a chorus of miners warning of coming copper shortages, arguing that a “huge deficit” is looming for the crucial industrial metal.

Chief Executive Officer Gary Nagle said that while some people were assuming that the industry would lift supplies as it had in previous cycles to meet a forecast increase in demand driven by the energy transition, “this time it is going to be a bit different.”

He presented estimates showing a cumulative gap between projected demand and supply of 50 million tons between 2022 and 2030. That compares with current world copper demand of about 25 million tons a year.

“There’s a huge deficit coming in copper, and as much as people write about it, the price is not yet reflecting it,” Nagle said.

Copper miners and analysts have been warning of growing deficits starting in the mid-2020s, driven by rising demand for copper in wind and solar farms, high voltage cables, and electric vehicles. While most analysts believe that prices will rise from current levels around $8,500 a ton, there is some disagreement about how large the copper shortages might be.

Still, Nagle said that Glencore, which is one of the world’s top copper miners and traders, will wait to lift its own output of the metal until the world is “screaming” for it. “We want to see that deficit,” he said.

Nagle said that Glencore could lift its annual copper production by more than 60% from current levels of 1 million tons with expansions of its current assets. The company is also eyeing a $5.6 billion new-build project at El Pachon in Argentina.

The Renewable Energy Transition Is Failing

Not sustainable: Vast quantities of minerals and metals are required for the renewable energy transition. (Photo credit: AleSpa/Wikimedia Commons)

Renewable energy isn’t replacing fossil fuel energy—it’s adding to it.

Despite all the renewable energy investments and installations, actual global greenhouse gas emissions keep increasing. That’s largely due to economic growth: While renewable energy supplies have expanded in recent years, world energy usage has ballooned even more—with the difference being supplied by fossil fuels. The more the world economy grows, the harder it is for additions of renewable energy to turn the tide by actually replacing energy from fossil fuels, rather than just adding to it.

The notion of voluntarily reining in economic growth in order to minimize climate change and make it easier to replace fossil fuels is political anathema not just in the rich countries, whose people have gotten used to consuming at extraordinarily high rates, but even more so in poorer countries, which have been promised the opportunity to “develop.”

After all, it is the rich countries that have been responsible for the great majority of past emissions (which are driving climate change presently); indeed, these countries got rich largely by the industrial activity of which carbon emissions were a byproduct. Now it is the world’s poorest nations that are experiencing the brunt of the impacts of climate change caused by the world’s richest. It’s neither sustainable nor just to perpetuate the exploitation of land, resources, and labor in the less industrialized countries, as well as historically exploited communities in the rich countries, to maintain both the lifestyles and expectations of further growth of the wealthy minority.

From the perspective of people in less-industrialized nations, it’s natural to want to consume more, which only seems fair…

…click on the above link to read the rest…

Is the Energy Transition Taking Off—or Hitting a Wall?

Forecast cloudy: Solar panels are wiped off for peak performance at The Wash Basket Laundromat, in Palmyra, Pennsylvania, in 2011. The business qualified for U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Energy for America Program assistance to add 72 photovoltaic panels to reduce electrical demand by a third. (Photo credit: Lance Cheung, USDA/Wikimedia Commons)

With the Inflation Reduction Act, the federal government is illogically encouraging the increasing use of fossil fuels—in order to reduce our reliance on fossil fuels.

The passage of the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) constitutes the boldest climate action so far by the American federal government. It offers tax rebates to buyers of electric cars, solar panels, heat pumps, and other renewable-energy and energy-efficiency equipment. It encourages the development of carbon-capture technology and promotes environmental justice by cleaning up pollution and providing renewable energy in disadvantaged communities. Does this political achievement mean that the energy transition, in the U.S. if not the world as a whole, is finally on track to achieving the goal of net zero emissions by 2050?

If only it were so.

Emissions modelers have estimated that the IRA will reduce U.S. emissions by 40 percent by 2030. But, as Benjamin Storrow at Scientific American has pointed out, the modelers fail to take real-world constraints into account. For one thing, building out massive new renewable energy infrastructure will require new long-distance transmission lines, and entirely foreseeable problems with permitting, materials, and local politics cast doubt on whether those lines can be built.

But perhaps the most frustrating barriers to grid modernization are the political ones. While Texas produces a significant amount of wind and solar electricity, it is unable to share that bounty with neighboring states because it has a stand-alone grid…

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Grid renewal generates billion-dollar shock as costs of energy transition become clear

A woman looks up at a large transmission tower.
Consumers are looking at a major increase in spending on power networks across Australia.(ABC News: Hugh Hogan)

Australian consumers have been told to brace for big hikes in their power bills after a watchdog revealed the true costs of overhauling the grid to deal with the renewable energy transition.

In a decision heralded as a landmark, Western Australia’s economic regulator this month said the state’s major electricity network provider should be allowed to spend $9 billion over the next five years – $1 billion more than it requested.

Network— or poles and wires — costs typically account for up to half the average electricity bill, with the rest made up of costs associated with generation, retailing and environmental policies.

Economic Regulation Authority chairman Steve Edwell said the draft decision reflected the urgent need for upgrades to Western Power’s network to ensure it could handle the surge of renewable energy flooding onto the system.

But Mr Edwell, who was also the inaugural chairman of the Australian Energy Regulator, said it was also a sign of what was to come around the country, where poles-and-wires companies face a race against time and a huge increase in costs to make sure they can keep up with the energy transition.

“The period between now and 2027 is pivotal,” Mr Edwell said.

“We’ve got to get it right and we’ve got to make sure the grid is in as good a shape as it can be to enable this transformation to continue at pace.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Summer Outages Are Coming. Is Your Facility Prepared?

On-site microgrids provide facilities with reliable energy during extreme weather that threatens utility blackouts and price increases.

Bloomberg News, the Wall Street Journal — almost every week we see news articles warning of more summer outages than ever before. The U.S. is experiencing more outages than other industrialized nations. Meanwhile, heatwaves, droughts, and wildfires are only becoming more common. The energy transition is here, and it’s going to be a bumpy ride for the next 10-20 years.

At the same time, the grid is shifting towards more intermittent renewables and shutting down existing power plants, leaving utilities with a thin reserve margin. This leaves large power users exposed to the risk of extended brownouts or outages.

On-site microgrids ensure facilities have reliable, affordable power during peak events, regardless of the state of the grid.

Extreme Weather Increases the Risk of Utility Blackouts

Early May should be too early for a heatwave, even in Texas. But already this year, grid operators expecting 105° temperatures across the state were forced to issue a grid outage warning and take action to stave off rolling blackouts. Nonetheless, some outages occurred as warned. Texas reached an almost record high in energy demand while generators and transmission operators scrambled to complete repairs and weatherization of a rapidly decaying grid.

The state avoided most blackouts during the grid usage spike, but not all. For instance, the utility shut off some Austin area customers due to the high demand, which exceeded 71 GW ahead of the summer peak season (75 GW is the record summer demand). At the same time, electricity prices rose sharply, reaching triple the average near Houston.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Wide Awake

Wide Awake

Extinction is the rule. Survival is the exception.” – Carl Sagan

Carl Sagan was a brilliant scientist, gifted orator, skilled teacher, and effective advocate for his strongly held beliefs. It is no exaggeration to say that Sagan is likely responsible for inspiring more people to pursue a career in the sciences than any other person in history. His 13-part television documentary Cosmos: A Personal Journey – which first premiered on PBS in 1980 and is still stunningly well-worth watching to this day – is widely regarded as one of the best science-themed series ever produced. Sagan knew how to turn a phrase to enchant an audience and routinely did so with a level of passion and charisma that cannot be faked.

In the climactic final episode of Cosmos titled Who Speaks for Earth? Sagan makes an impassioned plea for nuclear de-escalation. The first nine minutes of the piece are particularly spellbinding, and the introduction draws to a close with Sagan walking along a rocky shoreline where he delivers a historic monologue (emphasis added throughout):

The civilization now in jeopardy is all humanity. As the ancient myth makers knew, we are children equally of the earth and sky. In our tenure on this planet, we have accumulated dangerous, evolutionary baggage – propensities for aggression and ritual, submission to leaders, hostility to outsiders, all of which puts our survival in some doubt. We have also acquired compassion for others, love for our children, a desire to learn from history and experience, and a great, soaring passionate intelligence – the clear tools for our continued survival and prosperity.

Which aspects of our nature will prevail is uncertain, particularly when our visions and prospects are bound to one small part of the small planet earth. But up and in the cosmos, an inescapable perspective awaits. National boundaries are not evidenced when we view the earth from space…

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Food shortages as the energy crisis grows and supply chains break?

Food shortages as the energy crisis grows and supply chains break?

Preface. This is a long preface followed by two articles about how supply chains and complex tractors may be affected by energy shortages and consequent supply chain failures in the future.Which we’re already seeing as massive numbers of ships sit offshore waiting to be unloaded, and a shortage of truckers to deliver goods when they do arrive.

Supply chain failures will only get worse, affecting food supply and making the prediction of 3 billion more people by 2050 unlikely.  We are running out of time to replace fossil fuels with something else that is unknown and definitely not commercial for transportation, manufacturing and other essential services and products. Even the electric grid needs natural gas to stay up, no matter how many wind turbines or solar panels are built (Friedemann 2016).

The reason time is running out is that global conventional oil, where 90% of our petroleum comes from, peaked in 2008 (EIA 2018 page 45), and world oil production of both conventional and unconventional oil in 2018 (EIA 2020).

In the unlikely event you don’t know why this is scary, consider that we are alive today thanks to heavy-duty transportation, which runs almost exclusively on diesel, four billion of us are alive due to finite natural gas derived fertilizer, 500,000 products are made out of fossil fuels, and much of our essential manufacturing (cement, steel, metals, ceramics, glass, microchips) depend on the high heat of fossil fuels. There is not much time to come up with processes to electrify or use hydrogen to replace fossil fuels, which don’t exist yet, let alone rebuild trillions of dollars of infrastructure and a new unknown energy distribution system, triple the electric grid transmission system, and replace hundreds of millions of vehicles and equipment to run on “something else” (Friedemann 2021).

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

“The dream of a smooth energy transition is little more than a comforting shared illusion” – Pt. 1 of 2

“The dream of a smooth energy transition is little more than a comforting shared illusion” – Pt. 1 of 2

Moreover, says Dr. William Rees, even if it were possible, it would not solve climate change and would exacerbate the real existential threat facing society, namely overshoot. —

William Rees

“Climate-change and other environmental organizations urge governments to act decisively/rapidly to decarbonize the economy and halt further development of fossil fuel reserves.  These demands arguably expose:

    • ignorance of the role of energy in the modern economy;
    • ill-justified confidence in society’s ability to transition to 100% green renewable energy;
    • no appreciation of the ecological consequences of attempting to do so;
    • and little understanding of the social implications. 

Without questioning the need to abandon fossil fuels,

    • I will argue that the dream of a smooth energy transition is little more than a comforting shared illusion. 
    • Moreover, even if it were possible, it would not solve climate change and would exacerbate the real existential threat facing society, namely overshoot. 
    • I then explore
      • some of the consequences and implications of (the necessary) abandonment of fossil fuels in the absence of adequate substitutes, and
      • how governments and MTI [Modern Techno-Industrial] society should be responding to these unspoken biophysical realities.”

— Dr. William Rees, CACOR ZOOM Webinar 2021

Dr. William Rees is a population ecologist, ecological economist, Professor Emeritus, and former Director of the University of British Columbia’s School of Community and Regional Planning.  His academic research focuses on the biophysical prerequisites for sustainability.

About CACOR — The Canadian Association for the Club of Rome (CACOR) was founded in 1970 as one of the first of now more than thirty national associations affiliated with the International Club of Rome.  CACOR is autonomous, independent, and nonpartisan. Its main objective is to further the sustainability of the global ecosystem including the survival of humanity.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

The Energy Transition Will Be Impossible Without Fossil Fuels

The Energy Transition Will Be Impossible Without Fossil Fuels

  • OPEC members and other participants of ADIPEC2021 are calling on governments and international institutions to be realistic about the global energy transition
  • While countries like the UAE and Saudi Arabia are ready to embrace the energy transition, they argue that nations need to accept the role of fossil fuels in the global energy mix
  • African energy nations, in particular, have supported this message, claiming that they will be left behind if funding and development of their fossil fuel industries dries up

A week after COP26 came to an end, the global energy industry is now turning its focus to Abu Dhabi’s annual international oil and gas conference ADIPEC2021. A range of international oil companies, national oil companies, and oilfield service companies are convening to discuss not only the impact of the COP26 agreements but also the other challenges facing the industry.

The conference, considered one of the most important events of the year for the sector, will have to deal with a wave of criticism and negative attention from the media, Western governments, and activist shareholders. At the same time, the call for realism and transparency regarding the energy transition and climate change actions is growing. During the opening speech of ADIPEC2021, ADNOC’s CEO Sultan Al Jaber frankly addressed critical points that will be on the table over the next decade. Al Jaber highlighted the issues faced by the industry in his opening statement: “we meet at a historic moment. The global community has just concluded COP26… and, on balance, it was a success. Yet, current energy dynamics have revealed a basic dilemma. While the world has agreed to accelerate the energy transition… it is still heavily reliant on oil and gas“.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

What ‘transition’? Renewable energy is growing, but overall energy demand is growing faster

  • The rise in the renewable energy that’s available is still lower than the rise in global energy demand overall.
  • The shortfall between renewable energy supply and power demand will only widen as economies reopen and travel resumes, with demand already spiking to pre-pandemic levels.
  • A “common ground solution” would be to use traditional fuels as a backup when renewables fail to carry through.
Wind turbines in waters off the coast of the U.K.
Wind turbines in waters off the coast of the U.K.
Lakeland-Photos | iStock | Getty Images

The world wants to “transition” away from fossil fuels toward green energy, but the difficult reality is this: Dirty fuels are not going away — or even declining — anytime soon.

The total amount of renewable energy that’s available is growing. That’s good news for a world threatened by potentially devastating climate change.

But the increase in renewable energy is still lower than the increase in global energy demand overall. A “transition” from fossil fuels may come someday, but for now, renewable energy isn’t even keeping pace with rising energy demand — so fossil fuel demand is still growing.

“The global power market is experiencing rapid power demand growth as markets recover from the pandemic. Despite all the capacity additions in renewables generation, the amount of power currently generated by renewables is still not enough to meet this increased demand,” Matthew Boyle, manager of global coal and Asia power analytics at S&P Global Platts, told CNBC.

The global supply of renewables will grow by 35 gigawatts from 2021 to 2022, but global power demand growth will go up by 100 gigawatts over the same period, according to Boyle. Countries will have to tap traditional fuel sources to meet the rest of the demand. A gigawatt is 1 billion watts.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

How Much of the Worsening Energy Crisis Is Due to Depletion?

How Much of the Worsening Energy Crisis Is Due to Depletion?

If society attempts to maintain current levels of energy services throughout the transition, the result will be a spike in both energy usage and carbon emissions.

Coal and natural gas spot prices have recently soared to record levels internationally, while oil is trading at over $80 a barrel—the highest price in seven years. Newspaper columnists are asking whether people in Europe and Asia who can’t afford high fuel and electricity prices might freeze this winter. High natural gas prices are causing fertilizer prices to spike, which will inevitably raise costs to farmers, with eventual catastrophic impact on people who already have trouble paying for food.

The real energy transition will almost certainly be a shift from using a lot to using a lot less.

Political commentators are naturally searching for culprits (or scapegoats). For those on the business-friendly political right, the usual target is green energy policies that discourage fossil fuel investment. For those on the left, the culprit is insufficient investment in renewable energy.

But there’s another explanation for the high prices: depletion. I’m not suggesting we’re about to completely run out of coal, oil, or gas; there’s no immediate danger of that. However, the energy industry has historically targeted the highest-quality and easiest-accessed of these resources, which means that what’s left, in most cases, are fuels that will be costlier to extract and process—and also more polluting. The proximate causes of current price spikes may be transient market conditions (the see-sawing pandemic, Britain’s decision to leave the European Internal Energy Market, Russia’s reluctance to provide more gas to European buyers until a new pipeline is given final approval, and China’s choice to reduce coal imports from Australia). But behind the energy headlines is persistent, accelerating depletion.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

“Greening” Our Commutes

“Greening” Our Commutes

Is the revolution here? The cover of the October 2021 issue of National Geographic says it is. I agree, though we’re not talking about the same revolution. And what if that difference can make all the difference?

The magazine cover refers to two feature articles on “electric cars, hydrogen-powered planes, and the dream of a cleaner commute.” (emphasis added) Both articles are compelling, and worth reading, but I want to focus on the first: “The Big Bet on Clean Cars,” by Craig Welch.

In his article, Welch describes the massive transition underway from conventional petroleum-powered vehicles to all-electric and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (EVs). That transition is happening unevenly across the world. (The U.S., Europe, and China are leading the charge, so to speak, but there are interesting initiatives in other countries, as well.)

The transition is also unfolding across the entire auto manufacturing industry—from obscure startups developing cars with ranges that will top 500 miles or be powered by the sun, to the big companies with sprawling car lots on the outskirts of your town. Ford, for example, is investing $30 billion in EVs between now and 2025. General Motors is investing $35 billion through 2025, including $2 billion to redesign a Tennessee factory so it can manufacture an electric Cadillac, and another $2.3 billion on a battery plant. And Volkswagen announced last November that it plans to invest $86 billion in the development of EVs and other new technologies over the next five years.

Manufacturers aren’t the only ones betting big on electric vehicles. The current administration believes the future is electric (boogie woogie woogie), and President Biden’s original infrastructure plan included $174 billion to encourage the sale and manufacture of EVs. Wall Street is bullish on EVs, too…

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

The Myth of The “Energy Transition”

The Myth of The “Energy Transition”

Today I want to tackle once again the subject of the much-hyped “energy transition” which has been thoroughly debunked from articles, books, documentaries, and presentation videos such as Planet of the Humans, Bright Green Lies (also located here), Life After Fossil Fuels, Earth and Humanity: Myth and Reality, The Hydrogen Economy Myth, Energy and Human Ambitions on a Finite Planet, What Would it Take for Humanity to Experience Radical Transformation? and Pulling Back The Curtain On The Energy Transition Tale. I have pointed out how these hilarious ideas attempt to use technology to solve the problems and predicaments that technology use has CAUSED, which most people can deduce is an impossibility. Some people have accused me of being a “technology hater” which is completely false. I’m not really much different than most people, I enjoy all the modern conveniences that technology provides and am very grateful for the many varied advancements that technology has made possible (especially medical advancements). Given this, however, I am also well aware of the overall costs technology use has exacted upon the environment which surrounds us.

Now I have yet one more piece of evidence outlining how these false narratives about an “energy transition” is simply not to be. This new report, Assessment of the Extra Capacity Required of Alternative Energy Electrical Power Systems to Completely Replace Fossil Fuels, has been made available by Professor Simon Michaux. I introduced it by including three paragraphs in the Abstract, quote:

Calculations reported here suggest that the total additional non-fossil fuel electrical power annual capacity to be added to the global grid will need to be around 37,670.6 TWh. If the same non-fossil fuel energy mix as that reported in 2018 is assumed, then this translates into an extra 221,594 new power plants will be needed to be constructed and commissioned.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Pulling Back The Curtain On The Energy Transition Tale

Pulling Back The Curtain On The Energy Transition Tale

OK, I am going to try to keep this quite short and to the point. Everyone familiar with me knows that I have been rather outspoken against what are commonly called “technofixes” for a considerably long time. Of course, this has always been for very good reasons, being that technology is what has caused the predicament of ecological overshoot in the first place. However, given the hype, marketing, advertising, and PR work done by the industries involved, many people are unaware that these technologies do not reduce fossil fuel use, they actually INCREASE their use by requiring (among other things) a considerably larger electrical grid, storage of energy for when intermittent devices are not generating, and large losses due to the realities of electrical transmission. Because the overwhelming message presented to society over the years that technology is “great” and does so much for us, the inculcated message is that technology can do no harm. Unfortunately, this couldn’t be further from the truth. While technology has definitely accomplished very many awesome feats, these have all come at great cost to all the nature surrounding us which we ourselves are a part of; and we cannot live without this nature because we depend on it for the ecosystem services it provides, giving us habitat. Technology use is actually what supports civilization and is the cause of ecological overshoot.

Finally, this paper by William Rees and Megan Siebert (based upon this particular study) has been distributed showing once and for all that the technofixes that are constantly hyped about are nothing but an illusion, quote:

We have exposed fatal weaknesses in the technologies widely advanced as solutions to the climate crisis. The notion of clean energy is an illusion that ignores innumerable biophysical realities and costs that cannot be afforded by any reasonable measure…

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Olduvai IV: Courage
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Olduvai II: Exodus
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