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Carbon Neutral Myth: Why the Green Tech Revolution Will Not Solve Climate Change

Carbon Neutral Myth: Why the Green Tech Revolution Will Not Solve Climate Change

The Price of Green Energy

The Price of Green Energy

Limits to Green Energy Are Becoming Much Clearer

Limits to Green Energy Are Becoming Much Clearer

We have been told that intermittent electricity from wind and solar, perhaps along with hydroelectricity, can be the basis of a green economy. Things are increasingly not working out as planned, however. Natural gas or coal used for balancing the intermittent output of renewables is increasingly high-priced or not available. It is becoming clear that modelers who encouraged the view that a smooth transition to wind, solar, and hydroelectric is possible have missed some important points.

Let’s look at some of the issues:

[1] It is becoming clear that intermittent wind and solar cannot be counted on to provide adequate electricity supply when the electrical distribution system needs them.

Early modelers did not expect that the variability of wind and solar would be a huge problem. They seemed to believe that, with the use of enough intermittent renewables, their variability would cancel out. Alternatively, long transmission lines would allow enough transfer of electricity between locations to largely offset variability.

In practice, variability is still a major problem. For example, in the third quarter of 2021, weak winds were a significant contributor to Europe’s power crunch. Europe’s largest wind producers (Britain, Germany and France) produced only 14% of installed capacity during this period, compared with an average of 20% to 26% in previous years. No one had planned for this kind of three-month shortfall.

In 2021, China experienced dry, windless weather so that both its wind and hydroelectric power were low. The country found it needed to use rolling blackouts to deal with the situation. This led to traffic lights failing and many families needing to eat candle-lit dinners.

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

Rushing headlong into electrification, the West is replacing one energy master with another

Global Coal Power Demand On Track For Record As Green Energy Transition Crumbles

Global Coal Power Demand On Track For Record As Green Energy Transition Crumbles

There’s no question that the ‘greenification’ of the global economy has returned many industrial countries to coal in 2021. New data from the International Energy Agency (IEA) shows that the amount of electricity generated worldwide from coal is on track to hit a record high.

IEA’s Coal 2021 report says global power generation from coal soared 9% in 2021 to an all-time high of 10,350 terawatt-hours. The rebound comes amid a rash of green policies and stupid political choices, such as decommissioning oil and gas-fired power plants and fossil fuel exploitation projects, ironically resulting in an energy crisis worldwide.

“The rebound is being driven by this year’s rapid economic recovery, which has pushed up electricity demand much faster than low-carbon supplies can keep up,” IEA said. Also, the dramatic rise in natural gas prices forced power plants to source coal as a cheaper alternative.

Overall coal demand, including energy-intensive industries such as cement and steel, is expected to increase 6% this year. Though it shouldn’t surpass the record consumption levels of 2013/2014, IEA said. It added coal demand could hit a new record high in 2022. 

IEA Executive Director Fatih Birol said the increase was “a worrying sign of how far off track the world is in its efforts to put emissions into decline towards net zero.”

The IEA said that China is responsible for half of the coal-fired power generation worldwide and will increase by 9% year-on-year increase.

“The pledges to reach net zero emissions made by many countries, including China and India, should have very strong implications for coal – but these are not yet visible in our near-term forecast, reflecting the major gap between ambitions and action,” said Keisuke Sadamori, Director of Energy Markets and Security at the IEA.

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

Bright Green Lies

Bright Green Lies

 

 

Used Car Battery Problems Take Shine Off China’s ‘Green’ New Energy Vehicles

Used Car Battery Problems Take Shine Off China’s ‘Green’ New Energy Vehicles

In the last decade, China has rapidly expanded its “green” new energy vehicle (NEV) industry but recycling and disposing of hundreds of thousands of tons of used car batteries has become a pressing issue due to environmental concerns.

Growth in China’s NEV industry took off in 2014 when nearly 78,500 NEVs were produced and some 75,000 were sold. As of September of this year, China’s NEV registration reached 6.78 million, of which 5.52 million are fully electric vehicles.

The NEV industry predicts that its production and sales growth rate will remain above 40 percent in the next five years prompting the question of how to best manage the growing numbers of discarded lithium batteries from the NEVs.

Industry data shows that the service life of lithium batteries used in electric vehicles is generally 5 to 8 years, and the service life under warranty is 4 to 6 years. That means, tens of thousands of electric car batteries will soon need to be discarded or recycled, and millions more down the road.

According to the latest data from China Automotive Technology and Research Center, the cumulative decommissioning of China’s electric car batteries reached 200,000 tons in 2020 and the figure is estimated to climb to 780,000 tons by 2025.

Presently, most end-of-life batteries are traded in the unregulated black market, raising serious environmental concerns. If such batteries are not handled properly, they could cause soil, air, and water pollution.

“A 20-gram cell phone battery can pollute a water body equivalent to three standard swimming pools. If it is buried in the ground, it can pollute 1 square kilometer (247 acres) of land for about 50 years,” Wu Feng, a professor at Beijing Institute of Technology, once publicly stated.

Electric car batteries are many times larger than cell phone batteries.

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

Wood for the Trees: rush to green hydrogen masks mammoth plans to wood-chip the forests

Wood for the Trees: rush to green hydrogen masks mammoth plans to wood-chip the forests

biomass, green hydrogen, logging, wood chips
Biomass projects entail wood chips. Image: @john_kinnander, Unsplash

Is green hydrogen yet another spin with catastrophic consequences for the environment? Sue Arnold looks behind the greenwash to find wide-scale plans for logging for wood-chips.

Dominic Perrottet and his new Treasurer, Matt Kean, enthusiastically unveiled their $3billion “world leading” green hydrogen strategy for NSW last month, with promises of $80 billion in private investment and more than 10,000 jobs created.

What the two politicians didn’t say was that NSW forests would be the source feedstock for the so-called “renewable energy”. Nor did they detail that this latest effort to convince the public their government is “serious” about net zero commitment, is in fact yet another massive money pit labelled “renewable energy”. A green light to the corporate cowboys waiting to cash in on the net zero train.

One of the first cabs off the green hydrogen rank is the old coal-fired Redbank Power Station near Singleton. It is now owned by Verdant Earth Technology, previously known as Hunter Energy. The project plans to convert the station into a 150-megawatt biomass plant to generate 1,00,000 MWh of green baseload power, equivalent to supplying 200,000 homes with net zero CO2 emissions.

Pending approvals, Verdant plans to be operational with 16 tonnes of hydrogen production per day by the end of 2023.

What exactly is biomass? ScienceDirect’s definition is useful:

Forest residues are a by-product from forest harvesting, which is a major source of biomass for energy. This includes thinning, cutting stands for timber or pulp, clearing lands for construction or other use that also yields tops and branches usable for bioenergy. On top, stands damaged by insects, diseases or fire can be an additional sources of biomass.

Killing trees is not curbing emissions

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

The Fantasy of Electrification

The Fantasy of Electrification

Recently, I have come across literally hundreds of people defending EVs, their batteries, and electricity generation of all flavors. Of course, this is all fine and dandy, as I am used to the typical arguments in favor of technology of all stripes and often simply post my article about Problems, Predicaments, and Technology, highlighting the connection between the three.

But what concerns me most is that despite all the information available here on my blog and in so many other credible sources of science claiming the exact same things, even intelligent people are ignoring this science in favor of their own beliefs. Folks, BELIEFS DO NOT ECLIPSE FACTS, it is actually the other way around. When the facts do not agree with your beliefs, your beliefs are rendered entirely irrelevant. You can still choose to believe them, but those are called “false beliefs” and they ONLY exist in your mind; not in reality. Examine this commonly mentioned statement; “You made me laugh!” Did this occur in reality? No, of course not. You didn’t “make” me laugh, I CHOSE to laugh. You lack agency to “make” me do ANYTHING. I must CHOOSE to laugh or to take any other action. I can choose to take no action as well. So, when people choose beliefs over facts when the two of them disagree, they are choosing denial; cognitive dissonance, over reality.

This is a very important psychological effect to comprehend so that one can see if he or she is allowing denial to overcome his or her ability to learn new facts. A mind is much like a parachute, it only works when it is open.

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

A Stronger Electricity Grid Is Crucial to Cutting Carbon. Does that Make It Green?

A Stronger Electricity Grid Is Crucial to Cutting Carbon. Does that Make It Green?

A proposal to lay cables beneath the Columbia River is met with skepticism from an Indigenous activist and the river’s advocates.

[Editor’s note: This is the latest in a year-long occasional series of articles produced by InvestigateWest in partnership with The Tyee and other news organizations exploring what it will take to shift the Cascadia region to a zero-carbon economy, and is supported in part by the Fund for Investigative Journalism.]

Can slicing a 100-mile-long trench into the bed of the Columbia River — the iconic giant whose flow binds British Columbia, Washington and Oregon — be good for the environment? The answer is a big yes, says a team of energy developers that proposes submerging power cables in the riverbed.

The developers say the submerged cables could deliver “clean” energy that will be crucial for getting the most densely developed areas of Cascadia off fossil fuels.

A proposal by renewable energy developer Sun2o Partners and transmission developer PowerBridge would insert the cables into the Columbia at The Dalles in Oregon. This electrical on-ramp is near the towering wind farms and expansive solar farms installed along the Columbia Gorge in eastern Oregon and Washington.

The cables also would intersect and plug into the monster transmission lines at the Bonneville Power Administration’s Big Eddy substation, drawing cheaper solar power from the Southwest, steadier wind power from Montana and Wyoming, and reliable backup power from British Columbia’s supersized hydropower reservoirs.

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

Julia Barnes Discusses Her New Documentary “Bright Green Lies”

Happy Earth Day!! The above picture looking into Glacier National Park was taken last year and is among some of my favorite pictures of the trip.I’ve mentioned the book Bright Green Lies several times and now that the movie documentary is out (today!), here is a discussion from filmmaker Julia Barnes on her new documentary. I really like how she points out the obvious hypocrisies within the environmental movement here, quote:

“If people are genuinely interested in protecting the natural world in the environmental movement, a film that points out the harmful industries of things like ‘renewables’ shouldn’t be considered divisive. It should just be something that is information that they’re going to take in and that’s going to affect the way that they look at these issues, and if someone, if their allegiance is to these technologies above life on the planet, then they were never really an environmentalist to begin with and their allegiance is NOT with the natural world. Then, I don’t think we were ever part of the same movement and you know, just like your body has to be able to recognize the difference between your own cells and foreign things like viruses and bacteria, a movement has to be able to differentiate, we have to be able to recognize when we’re being colonized and co-opted. We have to have measures to sort that out, so we need things like this; we need to know the information; we need to know if there are people coming into environmentalism and claiming that this industry that calls itself ‘green’ is going to save the world and if the reality is that there really isn’t anything green about this industry, we need to be able to recognize that. We can’t just, you know, believe everything that we’re told about these things being ’emissions-free’ and ‘clean’ and ‘green’ and whatever.”

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

To Be Sustainable, Green Energy Must Generate Adequate Taxable Revenue

To Be Sustainable, Green Energy Must Generate Adequate Taxable Revenue

What allows any type of energy to be sustainable? I would argue that one of the requirements for sustainability is adequate production of taxable revenue. Company managements depend upon taxable revenue for many purposes, including funding new investments and paying dividends to shareholders. Governments depend upon taxable income to collect enough taxes to provide infrastructure and programs for their growing populations.

Taxable income is a major way that “net energy” is transferred to future investment and to the rest of the economy. If this form of net energy is too low, governments will collapse from lack of funding. Energy production will fall from lack of reinvestment. This profitability needs to come from the characteristics of the energy products, allowing more goods and services to be produced efficiently. This profitability cannot be created simply by the creation of more government debt; the rise in the price of energy is tied to the affordability of goods, particularly the goods required by low-income people, such as food. This affordability issue tends to put a cap on prices that can be charged for energy products.

It seems to me that Green Energy sources are held to far too low a standard. Their financial results are published after subsidies are reflected, making them look profitable when, in reality, they are not. This is one of the things that makes many people from the financial community believe that Green Energy is the solution for the future.

In this post, I will discuss these ideas further. A related issue is, “Which type of oil production fell most in the 2018-2021 period?” Many people had expected that perhaps high-cost energy production would fall. Strangely enough, the production that fell most was that of OPEC oil exporters. These oil exporters often have a very low cost of energy production. The production of US oil from shale also fell.

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

Still More Green Hypocrisy In the EU, This Time Hydrogen

Still More Green Hypocrisy In the EU, This Time Hydrogen

Let’s discuss the meaning of “Green” EU style.
What We Mean By 'Green'

Hooray More Green Energy!

The EU is cheering a new hydrogen project at a refinery in Germany.

The plant will be built by Shell and ITM power and will be able to produce about 1,300 tonnes of hydrogen per year, which can be fully integrated into the refinery processes, such as for the desulphurisation of conventional fuels. It will be the world’s largest hydrogen electrolyser.

Tudor Constantinescu, Principal Advisor, DG ENER at the European Commission stressed the the contribution of green hydrogen to the Energy Union objectives, saying: “Renewable electricity can support decarbonisation not only of the power sector, but, through sectoral integration also of other carbon intensive industries, such as refining. Green Hydrogen is a key enabler in this process, contributing to the Energy Union objectives both in terms of emissions reductions and increased renewables share.

Ten Times the Hydrogen, Ten Times the Cost?

Euractive has some interesting details of the undertaking, allegedly Set to Multiply Capacity tenfold by 2024.

The 10 MW electrolyser, while already Europe’s largest of its kind, is a pilot project for grander ambitions.

If the pilot works out well, the partnership around Shell wants to add another 100 MW of electrolysis capacity which would complete construction in 2024. That would then be the largest electrolyser in the world.

Yet the pilot project depended on financing by the FCH JU at a 50% rate, meaning that the business case for a project ten times larger without public funding would be questionable at best.

Whether those ambitions come to fruition will therefore depend on the carbon price and the amount of additional funding available, which could come from either the EU or Germany.

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

 

 

 

Today’s Contemplation: Collapse Cometh XVIII

Tulum, Mexico (1986) Photo by author

As per usual, my comment on an article in The Tyee that gives an interesting perspective on the idea of ‘Carbon Footprint’ and individual verses collective actions in addressing the behavioural/consumption changes necessary for effective action on climate change.

Great read and perspective.

“The problem is that climate change is as much a political problem as it is a scientific one. It’s not that we’ve been failing to make individual lifestyle changes; it’s that powerful interests have knowingly obscured, distracted from and delayed climate action over the last 50 years.”

I find this key to help in understanding one of the narratives that have come to dominate the ‘environmental/climate change/global warming’ movement: a transition to ‘renewables’ (or ‘green/clean’ energy) and ‘electrifying’ everything is the best path forward; and many of The Tyee writers are as guilty of this as well.

As has been shown by Jeff Gibbs’ Planet of the Humans and Julia Barnes’ Bright Green Lies, the ‘environmental’ movement appears to have been hijacked by powerful/influential political/economic interests in order to market the idea that getting everyone to shift away from fossil fuel-based industry and products is the key action in fighting climate change and avoiding the predicted consequences of it.

This idea is, I believe, primarily a marketing/sloganeering/narrative control campaign to help the businesses/corporations/industries involved in ‘renewables’ and associated products in expanding their consumer base and shifting capital towards them. It is not and never has been about protecting or saving the environment and ecological systems. It is about protecting and saving our energy-intensive, business-as-usual complexities and the technologies necessary to support/maintain these; and it is driven by the primary motivation of the ruling class/powers-that-be/elite: expansion/control of the wealth-generating systems that provide their revenue streams.

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

Lithium, Cobalt, and Rare Earths: the Post-Petroleum Resource Race

Lithium, Cobalt, and Rare Earths: the Post-Petroleum Resource Race

Thanks to its very name — renewable energy — we can picture a time in the not-too-distant future when our need for non-renewable fuels like oil, natural gas, and coal will vanish. Indeed, the Biden administration has announced a breakthrough target of 2035 for fully eliminating U.S. reliance on those non-renewable fuels for the generation of electricity. That would be accomplished by “deploying carbon-pollution-free electricity-generating resources,” primarily the everlasting power of the wind and sun.

With other nations moving in a similar direction, it’s tempting to conclude that the days when competition over finite supplies of energy was a recurring source of conflict will soon draw to a close. Unfortunately, think again: while the sun and wind are indeed infinitely renewable, the materials needed to convert those resources into electricity — minerals like cobalt, copper, lithium, nickel, and the rare-earth elements, or REEs — are anything but. Some of them, in fact, are far scarcer than petroleum, suggesting that global strife over vital resources may not, in fact, disappear in the Age of Renewables.

To appreciate this unexpected paradox, it’s necessary to explore how wind and solar power are converted into usable forms of electricity and propulsion. Solar power is largely collected by photovoltaic cells, often deployed in vast arrays, while the wind is harvested by giant turbines, typically deployed in extensive wind farms. To use electricity in transportation, cars and trucks must be equipped with advanced batteries capable of holding a charge over long distances. Each one of these devices usessubstantial amounts of copper for electrical transmission, as well as a variety of other non-renewable minerals. Those wind turbines, for instance, require manganese, molybdenum, nickel, zinc, and rare-earth elements for their electrical generators, while electric vehicles (EVs) need cobalt, graphite, lithium, manganese, and rare earths for their engines and batteries.

…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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