Tuesday, 23 August 2016

Renewable energy countries have lower CO2 emissions than nuclear powered countries - not!

A report, promoted by the University of Sussex, claims "Pro-nuclear countries making slower progress on climate targets". It was written by Andrew Lawrence, Benjamin Sovacool & Andrew Stirling for Climate Policy. A journal which claims to be

a world leading peer-reviewed academic journal publishing high quality policy research and analysis on all aspects of climate policy, including policy and governance, adaptation and mitigation, policy design and development and programme delivery and impact

Peer review and excellent editorial oversight I presume. So why did the peer reviewers/journal editor allow the author (Savacool) to reference himself 10 times within his own paper? Why did they allow flowery, and essentially meaningless language like this?:

For instance, it may be that persistent commitments to nuclear power as a large-scale, capital-intensive, ‘lumpy’, centralized ‘baseload’ thermal generating option can actually impede contemporary moves towards more liberalized, organizationally diverse, distributed, and networked systems of energy service provision, integrating supply and demand in innovative, more information-intensive ways
Bizarre that peer reviewers and editors should allow such language unless they shared the authors's prejudice in favour of renewable energy (RE). For example distributed, and networked systems. All power sources connected to the grid are likewise.

Why is a report written by lifelong opponents of nuclear power considered acceptable as reference material? The World Nuclear Industry Status Report 2015. None of the authors of that have any experience in nuclear power, and I doubt any have experience in any electricity generation technology. They are serial employees of deep green groups, often in receipt of funds from multi-billion dollar capitalized, tax exempt, foundations in North America.

The report's key antinuclear idea

The report authors' key idea is to split the EU27+3 into 4 groups of countries I to IV. According to the authors, "Group II" countries:

  • "retains some continuing nuclear commitments, but has adopted deliberate plans to decommission existing nuclear plants, eventually, without constructing new ones (e.g. Germany, Switzerland, Netherlands, and Sweden)"
  • have "highest average percentage of reduced emissions – 11%"

Their classification is arbitrary! "Group II" has 7 countries and only 1 (Germany) is wholeheartedly committed to nuclear power phase out. The other six in this 'anti-nuke' group:

  • Slovenia: Has not shut the reactor it jointly owns with Croatia, but instead, they intend to add more nuclear power
  • Switzerland: Public voted to continue with nuclear power
  • Sweden: Will phase out its nuclear tax in 2019. It has not banned new reactors
  • Spain: In 2011, the government lifted the 40-year limit on all reactors, allowing owners to apply for license extensions in 10-year increments
  • Belgium: When Germany tried to bully them into closing a reactor they refused
  • Netherlands: In 1994 voted to phase out their 2 nukes. In 1997 one NPP shut. In 2003: shutdown of others was postponed till 2013. In 2006 shutdown was postponed till 2034. Seriously Holland! It's only one reactor. If you're committed to the anti-nuke cause shut it down like our report authors want you to!

Six out of seven countries show less than 100% commitment to phaseouts and some of them had only very minor commitments to nuclear power start with (Slovenia, Netherlands). Strange how the authors made these 7 countries into a "group". I keep thinking There must be something else they have in common too!

The French parliament recently voted to install 50% renewable energy sometime in the future. Perhaps the authors should move France from a Group III (pro nuclear) to their Group II (who disdain nukes)?

More issues with this paper

  • The GFC should be factored into emissions reductions for Southern Europe: Greece, Portugal, Spain, Italy, respectively.
  • Technology level is ignored. E.g. UK + France are grouped with poorer ex-communist countries.
  • Geography is ignored. Norway, Sweden, Finland, Iceland, 3 former Soviet Baltic countries have much lower population densities and/or access to RE energies like hydro, geothermal, and or land for biomass. Unsurprisingly these countries generally have the highest renewable energy proportions in Europe. Who knew that lots of spare land and water would make RE easier?
  • "Regarding patterns of renewables adoption" Sweden had plenty of RE (hydro) for decades. Well before AGW became an issue. Because it's cheaper and they have lots of land, and hills.
  • Likewise France built its NPP fleet to ensure energy security and independence from fossil fuels which crippled its economy in the 1970s oil crises. France had a huge amount of diesel powered electricity in the 1970s. The did not do it to 'save the climate'; Saving the climate was a side effect.
  • Most EU RE is still biomass. Biomass was was over 60% of all RE in 2013. By ignoring the specific sources of RE Sovocool and Co. let their readers presume too much. The word wind occurs 12 times in the report, solar 5 times, biomass only twice. Why do the authors give little prominence to the biggest source of RE in Europe?
    Fig: European Union renewable energy, by technology (Source: Eurostat)
  • Poland never had a NPP built in the Soviet era and is a country rich in coal. Hardly surprising they are so dependent upon it in the electricity sector.
  • Time is ignored. Much of the hydro capacity added in Europe was put there decades ago. Not because of an EU renewable energy mandate. Politics does not work back in time
  • "The most uneven progress is among the Group III states". I almost laughed when I read that. UK and France do surprisingly well for emission reductions. A glance at EDGAR database tells us so. They are well above Germany in the CO2 reduction stakes. In fact, poorly Germany never even came to the races and may have to be put down soon by the vet. Germany has not cut its CO2 emissions since 2009.
    Fig: New EU coal plants since 2010 - Germany has more than rest of EU combined.
  • The complete data should include Croatia. One can group them with Slovenia because they share ownership of a NPP, or with Group III because they plan to build more nukes. The authors do not even explain why they left Croatia out.
  • The term renewable energy is arbitrary. It's a political construct. Many people have questioned whether any biomass/biofuel is renewable. For example: In USA, corn is grown to eventually make ethanol for use as motor vehicle fuel. It requires vast amounts of phosphate fertilizer which must be mined. The tailings are mildly radioactive: NORM. These pile up as huge mounds. Due to the vast amount of tailings made growing corn for biofuel ethanol, it emits more radioactivity than nuclear power plants (per unit of energy made). Many times over. If fertilizer dependent biofuel is a renewable why isn't nuclear power?
    Fig: NORM 'radioactive' gypsum stack - tailings from phosphate extraction.

More Issues

Since writing this blog my attention was drawn to other issues (see 1 & 2 below). Looking into that, I found a third.

  1. Which GHG emissions?

    Their table 2 column is labelled "Emissions reductions". But which emissions?:

    • all GHG emissions or just CO2,
    • only GHG emissions in the energy sector or all. i.e. including those from agricultural land use changes, ...

    The obvious conclusion is all emissions, but then I must ask myself: Why all? GHG emissions in the energy sector are often factored as CO2 emissions because burning fossil fuel is the main cause. Certainly for nuclear power which is under criticism here. So why not use only energy sector emissions? Perhaps the answer is that Germany's energy sector emissions record has been dire since 2009, and that coincides with Germany phasing out over half of its nuclear powered electricity.

  2. Mysterious data

    Getting back to the GHG emission data they use. Where did it come from? They cite an EC handbook, (pdf), which only has data up to 2012, and does not include 3 of their countries: Iceland, Norway and Switzerland. The handbook they say they used, gets its data is from Eurostat. Eurostat emissions data is here. There is a link on that page to a table. Then a download link from that table to CSV, spreadsheet data, etc. This table has data from 2005 to 2014. The same period written about. Could this be it? Maybe not. The table excludes 3 non-EU countries: Iceland, Norway and Switzerland, which were included in the Sovacool report. The emission reductions calculated from this Eurostat data do not correspond with the claimed emissions reductions in table 2 of the report by Sovacool et al.

  3. Citation explosion

    Look at the PDF for the report. It has a lot of references. Many of those references seem to have nothing to do with the report's ideas, nor evidence. Are they referencing just for the sake of it, or is something else going on there? I can't help but feel this is how political activists work. Cite as many of your political allies as you can, just to give them a cross citation boost. Put a load of noise into the academic literature just to advance one's career, and the careers of political allies. My old fashioned understanding of citations in an article is you cite anything you quote in your writing to give your writing authority (whether it be data, ideas, etc.). It looks to me like they doing the opposite. Gaming the system. Citing their friends to give they cross-citation 'authority'.

Comparison of Eurostat data with that of Lawrence, Sovacool & Stirling.

Now I've added a 2nd major modification to this blog. Purely to keep everything in the same place. Here is Eurostat data I downloaded from their website (all sectors). I calculated the GHG emissions reductions over 2005-2014 (see penultimate column). This is the same time period the authors report. They also claimed to use Eurostat GHG emissions data. Compare the penultimate to the last column of data. A negative value shows an GHG emissions fall. I can't see how they get their data (in the last column).

GHG emissions (CO2 eq) in thousands of tonnes. All sectors
% GHG emissions
fall 2005-2014
20052014EurostatLawrence, Sovacool & Stirling
EU28 + Iceland under Kyoto5,354,909.054,427,823.61-17.3
Czech Republic149,659.99126,767.73-15.39
United Kingdom727,266.29556,651.52-23.5-16
UK under Kyoto730,843.47560,124.72-23.4
Note: A negative sign in the last 2 columns shows a fall, otherwise it is a rise.

More Eurostat data:

This looks nothing like Lawrence, Sovacool & Stirling GHG data either!

GHG emissions intensity of energy consumption.
Country20052014% change
Czech Republic89.882.8-7.8
EU 2895.489.3-6.4
United Kingdom95.589.4-6.4
Units: kTOE;
Source: Link to here, then click: Energy statistics - main indicators, download: tsdcc220.tsv

So where do Lawrence, Sovacool & Stirling get their GHG emissions data from (seen in their table 2) upon which their entire argument rests? Who knows. They certainly did not get it from the EU stats summary report they cited in their paper. Data in that summary report stops at 2012.

Notes, references

  • Univ. Sussex press release.
  • The report: "Pro-nuclear countries making slower progress on climate targets"
  • AGW: Anthropic global warming. Human induced climate warming to you.
  • NPP: Nuclear power plant
  • GFC: Global Financial Crisis of the late noughties
  • RE: renewable energy
  • Tailings: bits of rock, stone left behind in mining after extraction
  • NORM: Naturally Occurring Radioactive Materials. Defined by U.S. EPA, and regulated at state level (not federally). Can be very difficult to dispose of. No one wants 'radioactive waste'.
  • EU27+3: The EU28 minus Croatia, plus Iceland, Norway and Switzerland.
  • Actual countries they say are Group II: Belgium, Germany, Netherlands, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland.
  • EDGAR emissions database
  • Eurostat RE, 2014

Sunday, 21 August 2016

Fracking Is Not Contaminating Water In North Dakota

Reblogged from: Fracking Is Not Contaminating Water In North Dakota

Fracking Is Not Contaminating Water In North Dakota

Removed image due to ©

At times the opponents of fracking seem so desperate to manufacture ugly headlines about it that they draw ludicrous conclusions from correlations.

For instance, a year ago the National Bureau of Economic Research blamed fracking for a tiny increase in North Dakota’s rate of high school drop outs. But that’s dumb. To the extent that the dropout rate in North Dakota increased alongside the fracking-driven oil boom, it was because of the opportunities for drop outs to make a lot of money in a booming economy.

…blaming surface bring spills on fracking is like blaming automobiles when someone spills some gasoline on the ground at a fuel station.

Any dramatic increase in economic opportunities is likely to increase dropout rates, whether it’s a boom in manufacturing jobs or construction jobs or oil industry jobs. Blaming fracking as the energy development technique which led to an economic boom that, in turn, inspired some kids to drop out of high school is more than a stretch. It’s silly, and more than likely motivated by animus toward fossil fuel energy development.

Something similar is going on with a Duke University study (funded in part by the Natural Resources Defense Council, naturally) which is making headlines today.

“A published and peer-reviewed Duke University study finds that thousands of saltwater and frack flowback water spills throughout the oil patch have left a legacy of toxic contamination, including radioactive soils and polluted streams unsafe for human consumption and aquatic health,” reports Lauren Donovan for the Bismarck Tribune.

You can read the press release for the study on the website for Duke University’s Nicholas School of the Environment. It almost seems like the folks at Duke have it out for North Dakota. Last year they produced research which described North Dakota’s oil boom as a “loser” for the state, something local officials (including those who were cited by the Duke researchers) disputed.

Anyway, from Duke’s release about this most recent research:

“Until now, research in many regions of the nation has shown that contamination from fracking has been fairly sporadic and inconsistent,” said Avner Vengosh, professor of geochemistry and water quality at Duke’s Nicholas School of the Environment. “In North Dakota, however, we find it is widespread and persistent, with clear evidence of direct water contamination from fracking.”

Proving that fracking leads directly to water contamination is something of a holy grail for the environmental left. They’ve been making the claim for year, but they’ve been largely unable to substantiate now.

And even this study doesn’t prove a link between fracking and water contamination, because the spills these researchers are citing are surface spills. Specifically spills of brine water.

Yes, brine is a part of the fracking process, but blaming surface bring spills on fracking is like blaming automobiles when someone spills some gasoline on the ground at a fuel station.

Fracking happens thousands and thousands of feet below the surface of the earth. The spills the Duke folks are talking about happen up on the surface. I’m not excusing the surface spills, but blaming them on fracking is specious and calculated more to create convenient headlines for anti-fracking activists than to inform the public.

If we want to have a debate about surface spills, then fine. Let’s have it. But let’s not muddy the waters by tying what happens on the surface with fracking.

Rob Port is the editor of SayAnythingBlog.com. In 2011 he was a finalist for the Watch Dog of the Year from the Sam Adams Alliance and winner of the Americans For Prosperity Award for Online Excellence. In 2013 the Washington Post named SAB one of the nation's top state-based political blogs, and named Rob one of the state's best political reporters.

Saturday, 20 August 2016

Follow the money part 2.

twenty-six energy companies including the state’s three major investor-owned utilities, Occidental, Chevron, and NRG—all with business before the state—donated $9.8 million to Jerry Brown’s campaigns, causes, and initiatives, and to the California Democratic Party since he ran for Governor. Donations were often made within days or weeks of winning favors.

U.S. non-profit "Consumer Watchdog", which does pretty much that, just released a report detailing how much California's green governor Jerry Brown is owned by the U.S. gas and oil industry:

Article | video | full report (pdf)

A few blogs ago we saw how nearly all the U.S. green movement is owned by mostly private foundations. Many funds donating money to the same green groups. All those green groups campaigning on nearly identical agendas. I've long been curious why the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds supports wind power but formally opposes nuclear power. Likewise the World Wildlife Fund (if it's still called that). Truly remarkable how all these "green" groups oppose GMOs and nuclear power, support organic farming, and inefficient, intermittent, expensive renewable energy. All of them selling us the same metaphysics of how we need to live in "harmony with nature". Renowned climate scientist James Hansen explained how he'd been told by leaders of large U.S. green organizations that they could not support nuclear power because their sugar daddies would defund them. I didn't take much notice of this from Jim Hansen. I thought: what are a few millions in lost funds? Over many decades the funds flowing into the U.S. green movement account for billions not millions. Now I understand it!

Below are just 6 of more than 1700 funds pouring money into the coffers of Luddite and degrowth green organizations. These are 6 funds originally founded on fossil fuel money (there are far more fossil funders too), but we obviously don't have room to list over 1700 money sources. This chart is interesting in that the money goes to a few select green groups, who all have a remarkable uniformity of both policy and ideology. Not just "greens", they are a very particular kind of green.

Thursday, 18 August 2016

Climate Policy Failure

Re-blogging a comment

Alberto Zaragoza Comendador | August 18, 2016 at 10:08 am

Any time someone claims climate policies have achieved this or that, show him this graph.

PS: TE didn’t actually say the emissions reduction was due to climate policies, iirc, but it seems to be what you’re implying. In fact whatever policies have been enacted since Kyoto have utterly failed to move the needle – emissions have kept essentially the same trajectory as before, in terms of CO2 intensity of GDP.

Sunday, 14 August 2016

Where did the green movement come from?

"The common enemy of humanity is man. In searching for a new enemy to unite us, we came up with the idea that pollution, the threat of global warming, water shortages, famine and the like would fit the bill. All these dangers are caused by human intervention, and it is only through changed attitudes and behavior that they can be overcome. The real enemy then, is humanity itself."
-- The First Global Revolution, 1991, Alexander King (Club of Rome co-founder) & Bertrand Schneider.

The anti-nuke movement did, indeed, begin about 1969, but the concurrent event was not the founding of Friends of the Earth (1969), but the Club of Rome (1968). Large numbers of very rich people took it upon themselves to deindustrialize the USA and bring poverty to U.S. workers. Pulling up the ladder to riches against the poor, like countless rich people before them. The billion dollar U.S. foundations they funded have been promoting Luddism and neo-Malthusian economics since them. Some of the bigger foundations are listed below with the original sources of their funds:

Blue Moon Fund
CITGO (oil); Original endowment = $400 m
King Broadcasting (Seattle); assets (2010) > $104 m
Charles Stewart Mott
GM Motors; 2006 assets = $2.6 bn
Levi Strauss
David & Lucile Packard
Hewlett-Packard (computers), endowment = $5.8 bn
Ford motors
Gordon and Betty Moore
Intel micros
Harold K. Hochschild
American Metal Co.
lumber, building, and sawmills; AuM (2014): $0.95 bn
Patrick Lannan, Sr., entrepreneur and financier
Getty Oil
MacArthur (John D. & Catherine T)
banking & real estate; AuM: $6.47 bn (2014)
Nathan Cummings
General Dynamics
Rockefeller (oil)
ATR: A Territory Resource Foundation
media (Ted Turner)
Trust for Mutual Understanding
Gordon Letwin (one of the initial Microsoft 11), assets = Assets: $88 m

It was not an intellectual schism (among greens) that made the antinuclear power movement. It was a schism within U.S. capitalism. The ideas of the antinuclear power movement were bound to arise. There was nothing inevitable about them getting so much funding.

Saturday, 13 August 2016

Great success of German Wind and Solar in Energiewende

My eye can clearly see that Germany built more coal-fired electricity generation post-2010 than the rest put together!

reference: Trends in global CO2 emissions: 2015 Report (pdf), PBL Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency.

Thursday, 11 August 2016

What is wrong with renewable energy? : ERoEI explains it.

When the Guardian delete your post because they find it so offensive. So I thought, but it was only a series of glitches there. I wrote this. It's a nice summary of why I think most renewable energy is evil.

Solar will not be cheaper. In Northern Europe (Germany and Switzerland) a recent study showed solar PV does not even make enough energy to pay for its energy costs (Ferroni & Hopkirk). Its energy return on energy invested, ERoEI, is 0.83. Meaning for every 100 units spent making, installing, running and decommissioning it, only 83 units are made. An advanced society, like ours, needs energy systems with an ERoEI at least 12. Meaning 100 energy units are used for every 1200 units made. ERoEI is just a ratio between the energy used to gather it and the payback we get when harvesting it. Renewables like wind and solar have low to very low ERoEI figures so are just not able to sustain us. Because of

  1. low power density,
  2. low energy density and
  3. supply intermittency.

The energy density of nuclear power is potentially a billion times that of a lithium battery. The power density of nukes is tens of billions times wind. Low renewable power density means vast numbers of renewable energy machines must be built, covering huge areas, destroying ecosystems and producing unimaginable environmental harm. All of it must soon be scrapped. A wind mill lasts only 20 years and solar PV barely more than 25. Energy/power density alone does not kill renewables as an effective solution, but intermittency does. Because it can’t supply energy on demand, intermittents need supporting sources like natural gas and/or hydro. [Batteries won’t do: (1) too expensive, (2) Low energy density means too many will be required.] Fake environmentalists promoting renewable energy are the biggest threat to the environment today. They are funded by billion dollar, mostly, US Foundations. E.g. Ford, Rockefeller, David & Lucile Packard, Ted Turner, Charles Stewart Mott, etc. Such foundations have promoted Luddism, and a neo-Malthusian mindset since the Club of Rome was founded in 1968. Rich people who want nothing more than to pull the ladder up after them to keep the rest of the world poor. Money made on the backs of U.S. labourers, now dedicated to making the U.S. poor. Done in the name of protecting the environment. Those in their pay (all the mainstream green movement) are not environmentalists in the true sense. The so-called solutions they promote will do more harm than good: cause energy poverty and ruin the environment.