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A far from perfect storm

A far from perfect storm

Global warming may yet prove to be the one thing which saves us from our largely misguided attempts to respond to global warming.  This is because, while the crisis is real enough, the solution that we have bought into is an absolute stinker.  While a great deal of corporate profit has been made from the deployment of non-renewable renewable energy-harvesting technologies (NRREHTs) whatever question they are an answer to, it is not “how do we operate a complex industrial society without fossil fuels?”

Up until now this has not been a problem, of course.  For the best part of half a century, politicians have been mouthing warm words about protecting the environment and saving the planet.  But in practice they have simply presided over more business as usual while hoping that clever people somewhere else will discover some new energy source or invent some new technology which will save the day.  In the meantime, energy-expensive solar panels and wind turbines were deployed – with huge subsidies doled out to landowners – to lull a gullible public into believing something was being done.

The establishment media played their part by conflating electricity with energy, so that they could falsely claim that this city, region or country had run entirely on renewable energy yesterday – although “yesterday” often turned out to mean “a couple of hours yesterday.”  But since electricity is only 20-25 percent of the energy we use, these media stories simply ignored the gas used for heating and cooking, the oil used to operate transport, plant and agricultural machinery, and the coal used to make steel and cement.

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

This isn’t going to work

This isn’t going to work

If an energy policy sounds too good to be true, that is usually because it is.  Take, for example, just one of the jigsaw pieces in current policy for reaching net zero by 2050: electric car batteries.  Jillian Ambrose – who should know better – at the Guardian reports this weekend that:

“Ofgem plans to make it easier for electric vehicle drivers to sell the energy stored in their car batteries back to power grid as part of a move to help make the switch away from fossil fuel cars more affordable.

“Under the plan put forward by Great Britain’s energy regulator, electric vehicle drivers could earn money by effectively transforming their cars into mobile power plants by releasing power back to the energy network when demand on the electricity grid reaches a peak.

“If enough drivers take up the chance to make money from their car batteries by using vehicle-to-grid technology, the UK could avoid investing in new power plants with the equivalent generation capacity of up to 10 large nuclear power stations.”

This is wishful thinking on steroids.  While it is true that if all of the UK’s 37 million cars were replaced with battery electric cars, and assuming that all were fitted with a mid-range – 98KW -battery, they could provide 3,100GW of power to the grid – just shy of the 3,200GW from 10 nuclear plants – they could only do it for about an hour.  A battery is not a source of power, it is merely a storage medium.  For comparison, a recent report the Manhattan Institute finds that:

…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…

The Energy Transition Show: No Limits

The Energy Transition Show: No Limits

Are there fundamental limits to the energy transition that will slow it down, or prevent us from decarbonizing our energy systems? Critics and skeptics of the energy transition have pointed to issues like the problems of producing key minerals, or the costs of renewable energy, or path dependency in emerging economies. Some have questioned whether renewables resources even exist in sufficient quantities to displace the existing energy system, or whether there is enough land to site the requisite new wind and solar capacity.

In this show, we tackle these questions one by one, and explain why there are no fundamental limits that will bring the energy transition to a hard stop in the decades ahead. Quite the opposite, in fact. The safest assumption now is that renewables will continue to grow exponentially, and we should be thinking about the implications of that, rather than asking how the current system can struggle to persist. We’ll also explain why the transition will actually encourage economic growth, rather than restrict it.

Our guide for this discussion is Kingsmill Bond of the Carbon Tracker clean energy think tank based in London. We review several recent reports that he and his colleagues at Carbon Tracker have produced which specifically address these questions, and show how incredibly large our resources of renewable energy and key minerals really are. We’ll also discuss why emerging economies are more likely to leapfrog over the older conventional energy systems and go straight for the new technologies of the transition.

Finally, we share a number of exciting announcements about the future direction of this show and some new features we’re making available to annual subscribers!

Guest:Kingsmill Bond is the Energy Strategist for Carbon Tracker, a London-based clean energy think tank. He believes that the energy transition is the most important driver of financial markets and geopolitics in the modern era…

…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…

Today’s Contemplation: Collapse Cometh XXVIII

Tulum, Mexico (1986) Photo by author

Today’s very brief ‘contemplation’ is a comment I penned on an article that discusses the limits to growth we have probably surpassed, Kuber-Ross’s stages of grief (especially denial and bargaining) that the world seems to be experiencing in the wake of increasing awareness of our existential dilemmas/predicaments, and a call for cooperation amongst the world’s people to address our plight.

I have repeatedly experienced the denial and anger that tends to arise when one challenges another’s personal beliefs. I should know better than to present countervailing evidence/narratives, especially given the defensive psychological mechanisms that arise to preserve such beliefs. We tend to look for confirmation of our strongly-held views by surrounding ourselves with like-minded voices, not disruptive narratives that can lead to cognitive dissonance. Such stories are denigrated and attacked (as the author of the article points out for the Limits to Growth authors).

I do believe, however, that the acceptance of our limits in many aspects leads to a conclusion that degrowth needs to be not only considered and discussed, but widely pursued if humanity is to have any hope of at least some of us transitioning through the self-made bottleneck that is directly ahead of us. Pursing the ‘wrong’ path will only make our predicament far, far more challenging and greatly reduce any opportunities for at least some of humanity to survive.

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

Renewables Need Big Oil To Thrive

Renewables Need Big Oil To Thrive

We need the expertise, experience, and financial backing of Big Oil to drive wind energy forward in the U.S., following years of strong investments from oil firms across the country kickstarting the industry.  As activists and international agencies continue to criticize Big Oil for its role in climate change and environmental degradation, it is precisely those firms that have made some of the more significant investments and added some of the greatest value to renewable energy projects across North America.

Wind capacity is expected to increase by 60 percent over the next five years from 100,000 megawatts (MW) at present. And the global offshore wind market could reach a value of $87.5 billion by 2026 according to predictions, an increase from just $36.1 billion in 2019. However, it will require significant investment and know-how from seasoned energy experts to get wind projects off the ground and meet this demand.

In April this year, Chevron became the first U.S. oil major to invest in offshore wind, signing a deal with Norway’s Moreld to develop Ocergy, a turbine technology company. It follows in the footsteps of European majors Shell, Equinor, and Total, which all have well-established offshore wind energy projects.

The offshore development is part of Chevron’s $300 million low-carbon investment plan. The development will see the construction of floating offshore wind turbines which will be used to power part of the U.S. grid.

Similar projects have already been seen in other areas of the world as Shell, with partners SSE Renewables and Equinor, is currently developing the world’s largest wind farm in the northeast of England. Phases A and B of the Dogger Bank Wind Farm will have a combined power generation capacity of 2,400 MW.

 

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

Through the Eye of a Needle: An Eco-Heterodox Perspective on the Renewable Energy Transition

Abstract

We add to the emerging body of literature highlighting cracks in the foundation of the mainstream energy transition narrative. We offer a tripartite analysis that re-characterizes the climate crisis within its broader context of ecological overshoot, highlights numerous collectively fatal problems with so-called renewable energy technologies, and suggests alternative solutions that entail a contraction of the human enterprise. This analysis makes clear that the pat notion of “affordable clean energy” views the world through a narrow keyhole that is blind to innumerable economic, ecological, and social costs. These undesirable “externalities” can no longer be ignored. To achieve sustainability and salvage civilization, society must embark on a planned, cooperative descent from an extreme state of overshoot in just a decade or two. While it might be easier for the proverbial camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for global society to succeed in this endeavor, history is replete with stellar achievements that have arisen only from a dogged pursuit of the seemingly impossible.
Keywords: 

1. Introduction

We begin with a reminder that humans are storytellers by nature. We socially construct complex sets of facts, beliefs, and values that guide how we operate in the world. Indeed, humans act out of their socially constructed narratives as if they were real. All political ideologies, religious doctrines, economic paradigms, cultural narratives—even scientific theories—are socially constructed “stories” that may or may not accurately reflect any aspect of reality they purport to represent. Once a particular construct has taken hold, its adherents are likely to treat it more seriously than opposing evidence from an alternate conceptual framework.

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

Today’s Contemplation: Collapse Cometh XXVII

Today’s Contemplation: Collapse Cometh XXVII

Tulum, Mexico (1986) Photo by author

Discussing ‘renewable’ energy and its shortcomings with those who hold on to the belief that they offer us a ‘solution’ to the predicaments humanity faces is always ‘challenging’. Today’s contemplation is based on a recent dialogue I have had with a few people who seek to hold on to the belief that we can completely abandon fossil fuels and simply shift support for society’s complexities over to ‘renewables, and my response to someone who complimented my viewpoint (an unusual occurrence on the pages of the online media site (The Tyee) I frequent, whose writers/editors/commenters mostly support ‘renewables’ and the promises the proponents of them make). The story is not so straightforward and most don’t want to hear that. You can check out the conversation here.

Thank you. The root cause of our problem appears to be ecological overshoot brought on, primarily, by our exploitation of a one-time energy cache (fossil fuels) that has helped to ‘power’ amazing technological tools and processes that, in turn, have allowed us to exploit the planet and its resources substantially. This has led to a number of positive feedback loops, particularly exponential increases in population, waste (including greenhouse gases), and the speed at which we use these finite resources.

The crowd that insists ‘renewable’ energy (and it’s not truly ‘renewable’ given its dependency on finite resources, and certainly not ‘green/clean’ based on the processes necessary to produce them) can ‘sustain’ our energy-intensive complexities tend to be willfully ignorant of their negative consequences and deficiencies. In fact, my guess is that many have little experience with or knowledge of them (see Alice Friedemann’s work at Energy Skeptic and especially her most recent Springer Energy Series publication, Life After Fossil Fuels) and are grasping for solutions to our predicaments.

…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…

Biomass: The EU’s Great ‘Clean Energy’ Fraud

Biomass: The EU’s Great ‘Clean Energy’ Fraud

The professionalization of the biomass industry is a problem that needs attention.”–Bas Eickhout, Dutch politician and member of the European Parliament.

When it comes to the global shift to low-carbon energy sources, Europe has traditionally been viewed as the world leader while the United States has frequently been regarded as an important, albeit grudging, participant. Over the past half-decade, China has also improved its stock in the fast-growing market through a plethora of heavy investments, especially in solar and wind.

For the most part, those views appear merited: Renewables rose to generate 38% of Europe’s electricity in 2020 (compared to 34.6% in 2019), marking the first time renewables overtook fossil-fired generation, which fell to 37%. In contrast, the IEA estimates that natural gas and coal generated a combined 61% of electricity in the United States in 2020, with renewables accounting for just 20%.

Earlier this year, the EU earned extra bragging rights after renewable energy surpassed the use of fossil fuels on the continent for the first time in history.

In contrast, the United States’ standing in the energy transition cycle took a significant hit after former president Donald Trump fulfilled a key campaign pledge by withdrawing the United States from the Paris climate agreement, joining the likes of Syria and Nicaragua as the only countries not party to the agreement.

But maybe Europe is not as clean as it has made the world believe—and the United States is not as dirty.

In 2009, the European Union issued a Renewable Energy Directive (RED), pledging to curb greenhouse gas emissions and urging its member states to shift from fossil fuels to renewables. But the fine print provided a major loophole: the EU classified biomass as a renewable energy source, on par with wind and solar power.

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

A looming oil price super cycle will likely be the last

After a pandemic and a price war sent petroleum prices tumbling in 2020, they are again on the rise. A new oil price super cycle — an extended period during which prices exceed their long-term trend — seems to be in the making.

That’s being driven by pervasive supply shortages from the lack of investment that has continued since the 2014 collapse in oil prices and, more recently, reduced investment in shale oil production. In addition, demand growth has been triggered by a strong recovery in countries such as China, a big stimulus package in the United States and global optimism about vaccines.
Nevertheless, this could be the last super cycle for oil because major economies appear committed to replacing fossil fuels, and car manufacturers have responded by committing to replacing internal combustion engine vehicles with electric vehicles. This shift will transform the oil market into one consistent with climate goals. But it also poses a risk of disorderly adjustment for economies dependent on oil, with far-reaching effects that in some cases could spill over their borders.

Oil investment crunch

Even with relatively lower oil prices, extraction and exploration companies have been highly profitable. At the same time, perhaps in recognition of a less buoyant future, they have reduced their investment. Production in oil fields and the number of wells are declining, and reserve depletion is rapid. The drop in both capital expenditure and replacement of oil reserves has persisted since 2014.
Covid has exacerbated the investment decline. For example, shale oil output — which has a shorter production cycle and therefore is more sensitive to changes in investment — is now increasing by half a million barrels a year, compared with 2 million barrels a year before the onset of the pandemic…

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

Today’s Contemplation: Collapse Cometh XXV

Today’s Contemplation: Collapse Cometh XXV

Tulum, Mexico (1986) Photo by author

This contemplation was prompted by an article regarding an ‘independent’ think tank’s report that presented the argument that government funding of the oil and gas industry needed to be shifted towards ‘green/clean’ alternatives. I’ve included a few hyperlinks to sites that expand upon the concepts/issues discussed.

Context, it’s always important. This ‘independent’ think tank, the International Institute for Sustainable Development, is part and parcel of the corporate/business ‘greenwashing’ of our world and ‘solutions’ to its various dilemmas. It’s primary mission is ‘sustainable’ development/growth, a gargantuan oxymoron on a finite planet. Infinite growth. Finite planet. What could possibly go wrong?

In fact, the perpetuation of this continued pursuit of perpetual growth is seen quite clearly in the absence of any discussion about curtailing our growth but rather finding ways to ‘sustain’ it, and the misuse of language (that has become endemic in the environmental movement) and the simplified ‘solution’ offered by arguing that government funds need to be directed away from the climate change-causing oil and gas industry and towards the ‘clean’ energy alternatives of ‘renewables’.

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

The concept of Peak Sun Hours

The concept of Peak Sun Hours

Further to my recent post about the intermittency of solar power, I thought I’d tackle some of you more mathematically challenged and hopefully bring more light (no pun intended) to the problems facing those who believe in 100% renewables running complex civilisation.

If on a perfect cloudless sunny day you plot the output of a solar array between sunrise and sunset you’ll end up with a perfect bell curve. This rarely happens of course. Clouds come and go, and depending on where your panels are installed all sorts of things can shade your panels, like trees. The curve then comes out looking rather less perfect, a bit like this…:

The pale blue area is the cloudless curve, the darker one is real life. Around 8am there’s a dip, could be caused by a cloud or a tree; and by the way, it only takes partial shading of a single panel to cause s drop off in production for the entire array. So a shadow caused by a stink pipe protruding through one’s roof could cause this….

Back to the curve. The AREA under this curve is important. It represents the ENERGY generated by the power shown on the y axis multiplied by the time on the X axis. Energy is power X time, hence kWh is the preferred unit of energy when discussing electricity.

The variability of the sun’s input plus all the shading issues make measuring the energy generated on any one day kind of difficult. Luckily, we have technology….

Maximum Power Point Trackers (MPPTs) have white man’s magic built into them to not just measure energy but even store the data so that nerds like us can talk about it and even blog about it…!

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

Olduvai IV: Courage
In progress...

Olduvai II: Exodus
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