No Minister

Archive for the ‘Renewable Energy’ Category

Energy Charades

A previous post, Energy Realities, showed in clear, graphical detail, the status of energy production and consumption, both globally and for two key nations; the USA and China.

In this post I’ll link to a number of detailed reports, all published recently, that provide more context to the graphs presented in that previous post.

But first there are a number of points about the current energy situation that can be taken from those graphs and their data:

  • As of 2019, almost thirty years after the Kyoto Treaty was signed, the world still overwhelmingly relies on fossil fuels for its energy needs, from electricity production to transport, to the tune of 87%.
  • Renewable energy forms a small percentage of global energy, and the majority of that is traditional biomass and hydro.
  • Nuclear power forms an even smaller fraction.
  • In the USA, fossil fuel dominance is at 80%, even as coal has fallen to about 11% of total energy production.
  • Despite this, the USA’s CO2 emissions per person is 18% less than it was in 1949 and 50% less than the peak in 1973.
  • China’s coal production has exploded in the last twenty years by a factor of almost 400%.
  • The efficiency of wind power is very low, with actual output being a small fraction of installed capacity, and often falling to zero. The same is true of solar power.

So let’s look at some of the reports from just this year alone that explain those graphs, noting that fossil fuels already generate 86% of China’s primary energy consumption.

China’s 2020 coal output rises to highest since 2015:

The world’s biggest coal miner and consumer produced 3.84 billion tonnes of coal in 2020, data from the National Bureau of Statistics showed on Monday.

China’s new coal power plant capacity in 2020:

China put 38.4 gigawatts (GW) of new coal-fired power capacity into operation in 2020, according to new international research, more than three times the amount built elsewhere around the world

Including decommissions, China’s coal-fired fleet capacity rose by a net 29.8 GW in 2020

There’s more to come:

China will invest more in coal to power its economy over the next five years, according to a government plan released Friday that only modestly increased renewable ambitions.

Two specific reports on that.

China’s Economy Is Based on Fossil Fuels:

China plans to build 250 gigawatts of coal-fired generating capacity to add to its current coal-fired fleet of over 1,000 gigawatts—more coal-fired capacity than the entire U.S. generating fleet. Last year, China opened the $30 billion Haoji Railway line, a 2,000-kilometer (1,243-mile) conduit to haul 200 million tons of coal a year directly from central coal mining basins to regions in the southeast.

The Chinese gap between Green and coal:

China approved the construction of a further 36.9 GW of coal-fired capacity last year, three times more than a year earlier, bringing the total under construction to 88.1 GW. It now has 247 GW of coal power under development, enough to supply the whole of Germany.

It’s sad to see in that last article, the claim being made that China is still holding to its commitment for reaching peak CO2 emissions by 2030 and the claim that these coal plants will become stranded assets, even as those actual figures are shown. Nobody, not even in infrastructure investment-mad China, would be stupid enough to build assets costing tens or even hundreds of billions of dollars that will be “stranded” within a decade. These things are built for thirty to forty years of life.

And it’s not just China.

Asia snubs IEA’s call to stop new fossil fuel investments:

Asian energy officials on Wednesday disputed the International Energy Agency’s (IEA) call for no new oil, natural gas and coal investments for the world to be able to reach net-zero carbon emissions by 2050, viewing that approach as too narrow.

Europe turns to coal-fired generation as gas prices rise:

Europe is so short of natural gas that the continent — usually seen as the poster child for the global fight against emissions — is turning to coal to meet electricity demand that is now back to pre-pandemic levels.

Coal usage in the continent jumped 10% to 15% this year after a colder- and longer-than-usual winter left gas storage sites depleted

The return of coal is a setback for Europe ahead of the climate talks in Glasgow later this year. Leaders of the world’s biggest economies failed to set a firm date to end coal burning at the meeting of the Group of Seven at the weekend in Cornwall, U.K.

I assume this means the EU will be giving Poland less shit about its refusal to trash 65% of its energy supply as they attempt to recover from four decades of Communism and reach the wealth levels of the Western EU nations.

INDIA – Coal projected to be its largest source of power in 2040.

Coal is projected to remain the largest single source of electricity in India in 2040, according to Michelle Manook, Chief Executive, World Coal Association.

You would expect such a person to make such a claim, but their energy minister sounds like he’s backing it up, according to the BBC:

India lambasted the richer world’s carbon cutting plans, calling long term net zero targets, “pie in the sky.” Their energy minister said poor nations want to continue using fossil fuels and the rich countries “can’t stop it”.

As a result the following analysis is probably right on the money:

The world’s coal producers are currently planning as many as 432 new mine projects with 2.28 billion tonnes of annual output capacity, research published on Thursday showed, putting targets for slowing global climate change at risk.

China, Australia, India and Russia account for more than three quarters of the new projects, according to a study by U.S. think-tank Global Energy Monitor. China alone is now building another 452 million tonnes of annual production capacity, it said.

More stranded assets I guess!

You need to understand that the developing world is not simply being obstructive in all this. It’s not just that they need to develop their economies fast and that fossil fuels will power the way forward just as it did the West, it’s also the simple fact that renewable energy cannot do the job because of its inefficiency and base load instability, both a result of laws of physics that cannot be avoided, no matter how low the cost of wind turbines and solar panels fall.

Moreover, these nations are beginning to notice some of the problems arising in Western nations and regions that have pushed hard into renewable energy. Some more headlines:

GERMANY – Chipmakers lament high taxes and levies on electricity:

“The high electricity price makes the location unattractive,” Christoph von Plotho, head of chip supplier Siltronic, told Handelsblatt. Another main reason were high personnel costs in Germany. At the same time, a spokesperson of Germany’s largest semiconductor producer Infineon told Handelsblatt that a secure power supply without fluctuations was also a major factor in keeping production in Germany and Europe.

That comes after Germany has spent twenty years and some 500 million Euros in its Energiewende program to build a wind and solar power system. This has resulted in a huge amount of installed capacity that just does not produce and actually requires the old power system to continue beside it:

In 2000, Germany had an installed capacity of 121 gigawatts and it generated 577 terawatt-hours… In 2019, the country produced just 5 percent more (607 TWh), but its installed capacity was 80 percent higher (218.1 GW)

The new system, using intermittent power from wind and solar, accounted for 110 GW, nearly 50 percent of all installed capacity in 2019, but operated with a capacity factor of just 20 percent. (That included a mere 10 percent for solar, which is hardly surprising, given that large parts of the country are as cloudy as Seattle.)

The old system stood alongside it, almost intact, retaining nearly 85 percent of net generating capacity in 2019. Germany needs to keep the old system in order to meet demand on cloudy and calm days and to produce nearly half of total demand. In consequence, the capacity factor of this sector is also low.

The average cost of electricity for German households has doubled since 2000.

All this has not been helped by their insane decision to shut down nuclear plants. The result is that coal still generates some 37% of electricity and Germany has missed its CO2 emission reduction targets. This won’t get better either:

Germany’s solar farms will have to be rebuilt every 15-25 years. The wind farms will need to be rebuilt every 20-25 years.

Higher investment costs, higher running costs, both short and long-term, resulting in more expensive electricity – and all to deliver poorer CO2 reductions than the USA, which has done nothing nationwide like the acclaimed Energiewende.

But while the USA has largely relied on switching from coal to gas for generating electricity (thanks frackers) , California has been another of these “Green Energy leaders” – and the results are the same, Blackouts Loom in California as Electricity Prices Are ‘Absolutely Exploding:

Two inexorable energy trends are underway in California: soaring electricity prices and ever-worsening reliability—and both trends bode ill for the state’s low- and middle-income consumers.

Texas is not as well known for pushing wind power but it has, and the results – blackouts – were already seen during the February cold snap, and could be seen again with this summer’s heat.

New York is also not well known for Green Energy, but they’re trying. On April 30 it closed the Indian Point nuclear power plant, which reliably produced 1,036 MW of electricity.

And so just the other day…

There is no way that China and India or the rest of the developing world are going to accept the same results.

Written by Tom Hunter

July 4, 2021 at 7:08 am

Energy Realities

There have been some terrific graphs published recently that tell us much more about both the global energy situation and efforts to reduce AGW than any number of lengthy articles.

All these graphs but one are historical, showing how energy use has changed over time since the start of the Industrial Revolution.

First, some history of our reliance on different types of energy over the last two hundred years. Note that coal usage peaked around one hundred years ago and oil in the 1970’s. But note also how important they remain.

The reason for those changes can be seen in the next graph, which effectively demonstrates the energy content of the different types. It’s interesting to see that Biomass is churning out slightly more energy than ever, but as energy demands have risen it and other renewable energy sources have simply been left behind. Those fuels with higher energy density have taken over by massive margins.

The only exception to this is nuclear, which is still a pitifully small contributor despite having the highest energy density of all.

Those global figures have been driven by two nations in particular, the USA and China.

Here’s the US. Coal’s contribution has dropped by a huge margin in the last twenty years. The reason for that can be seen in the mirror-image increase in natural gas, which has steadily replaced coal for burning to generate electricity. That in turn has been driven by fracking and horizontal drilling that has unlocked huge reserves of gas on the continental USA, greatly reduced the long-term cost of gas, and thus caused power companies to shift over to using more gas, a process that will continue.

The result of all that has been the steady reduction of CO2 emissions per person in the USA over the last fifty years.

All without signing up to, and even rejecting, the Kyoto Treaty and Paris Climate Accord. So much for government “action”.

Unfortunately all this good work by the USA’s capitalist economy, with its relentless focus on increased productivity that demands getting more production with less energy, is being undone by China.

Not that you can blame them. They have 1.4 billion people that need to have their lives lifted to something approaching that of the West, and they are therefore following a similar path of energy production that the West has undertaken over the last two hundred years. It’s the only way for people to become more prosperous and comfortable in all aspects of life, especially food, housing, health, work.

Note how even the impact of a government lockdown of the economy had no effect on the burning of coal in China in 2020.

India’s 1.2 billion people are following China as fast as they can, as well as the rest of Asia and Africa.

If you want one graph to explain why renewable energy forms such a tiny part of all this, even after hundreds of billions of dollars and Euros of investment over the last thirty years, then the following graph is as good as any.

You just can’t beat physics.

Written by Tom Hunter

July 2, 2021 at 7:00 am

Less than 100 rounds of quick hits

I’ve been very mean to the Golden State over the last few months as I looked at their failures on poverty, water, fire, and energy in my California Screaming series.

But the Peoples Democratic Republic of California deserves everything it’s getting for allowing itself to become a One Party state ruled by the Democrats, who have gradually imposed more and more of their dingbat ideas on a willing population.

Today’s news from the state is back on the energy front, With Its Power Grid Under Pressure, California Asks Residents to Avoid Charging Electric Vehicles:

Amid a West Coast heat wave that includes triple-digit temperatures, California’s power grid operators have called on residents to not use as much electricity so as to put less strain on the state’s beleaguered grid.

This is entirely predictable and makes the following visual joke more a reality every day.

Also, that whole argument about electric cars being cheaper to run than petrol or diesel vehicles, may start coming under some pressure in California if the other aspect of combatting AGW, with “renewable energy” continues to push prices up at these rates, Blackouts Loom in California as Electricity Prices Are ‘Absolutely Exploding’:

Two inexorable energy trends are underway in California: soaring electricity prices and ever-worsening reliability—and both trends bode ill for the state’s low- and middle-income consumers.

Last week, the state’s grid operator, the California Independent System Operator, issued a “flex alert” that asked the state’s consumers to reduce their power use “to reduce stress on the grid and avoid power outages.” The California Independent System Operator’s warning of impending electricity shortages heralds another blackout-riddled summer at the same time California’s electricity prices are skyrocketing.

In 2020, California’s electricity prices jumped by 7.5%, making it the biggest price increase of any state in the country last year and nearly seven times the increase that was seen in the United States as a whole.

That’s on top of the already high prices they pay:

It could be worse. Imagine being stuck in the middle of this situation with an electric vehicle that’s running low on charge, courtesy of Not The Bee (the “Not Satirical” companion site to the Babylon Bee):

Why yes, that is a 100-round magazine on that machine gun, and yes, those are completely illegal in the USA and have been since the Firearms Act of 1934. One aspect of “gun control” rarely discussed in the USA by the Democrat party is the actual enforcement of the laws as they stand now.

Fortunately the young guy wielding it is about as good at handling an automatic weapon as all those jihadis you see waving AK-47’s over their heads as they hide behind brick walls. The mag apparently fell out and he was forced to resort to a semi-automatic pistol, as you can tell from the change in the shot sounds.

That was in the Peoples Republic of Chicago, specifically the South Side near the bullet-riddled neighbourhood of Englewood, and while Northsiders like me used to just shrug our shoulders at this stuff there are now shootouts occurring on the tony North Lake Shore Drive in the NorthWest of the city.

I’m sure Mayor Lightfoot will be right on it with more pressure on the White Supremacists who rule the place, especially since it’s starting to look like South Africa.

Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker

And it seems another Deep Blue stronghold is getting in on the action.

The Marine, Samuel Poulin, was touring the city with his family when a stray bullet ricocheted and hit him. He’s expected to make a full recovery, and his relatives sound like they’re an interesting group:

A relative of the victim — who was visiting the Big Apple from upstate Northville for a baptism — pulled the slug out and gave it to police, according to the sources.

Mayor Bill de Blasio and his capitulations to the Far Left, including defunding cops, have produced a Times Square where a US Marine faces more danger than in combat.

Written by Tom Hunter

June 29, 2021 at 8:29 am

Your Saturday morning explosion (x2)

Who doesn’t like watching explosions? Especially when it’s destroying a wind farm, like this one in New Mexico. It’s also a brand new industry and one with a solid future.

The notes for the video say that having the 90 units felled permitted the wind farm owner to complete salvage of blades and drive-train elements from some of the wind turbines to provide replacement parts for similar units they operate at other wind farm locations.

But given the destruction we’re seeing here I just don’t see how what replacement parts they could be talking about. Enjoy the explosions.

These units look to be only twenty years old, judging by the design, but that does seem to be their lifespan, which is decades less than any other type of power station.

Each state has its own laws for cleaning up old industrial sites, which is probably why the following wind farm in Ohio has not been given the same treatment, instead being allowed to simply rot and make the landscape even uglier than when they were working. What a desolate sight.

I don’t believe there is anywhere in the U.S. where you can develop a mining project without putting up a bond or some other security to pay for the restoration of the site after the mine is closed. Obviously nothing like that was done with regard to the project you see in the video, but then it was probably built and then abandoned by a bankrupt single-purpose developer cashing in on the PTC every time it gets renewed:

“We get a tax credit if we build a lot of wind farms. That’s the only reason to build them.” Warren Buffet

Explosive demolition certainly needs to happen to the old, outdated wind turbines in the Altamont Pass that are such an eyesore seen from the I-580 interstate that leads to San Francisco. They look more like the old water pump windmills of American ranches.

Meanwhile over on the Beauty – both Nature and Human post, regular commentator Andrei wrote a paean to the beauty of human machinery and what can happen if it’s not taken care of, so I decided to add to this post with an example of that.

Written by Tom Hunter

June 5, 2021 at 6:00 am