Wind Power for the People and Fossil Fuel for Gold Mines and Hospitals

Posted by PITHOCRATES - December 1st, 2013

Week in Review

Energy firm RWE just backed out of a £4 billion ($6.6 billion) offshore wind farm.  The Atlantic Array project in the Bristol Channel.  Because of higher than expected costs.  And lower than expected government subsidies.  Meanwhile a new power plant was delivered in the Dominican Republic this year.  A nation that shares an island with Haiti surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean and the Caribbean Sea.  With a lot of sea wind to spin wind turbines.  Just as they filled the sails of the colonial powers’ ships centuries ago.  But they didn’t build a wind farm (see Quisqueya I & II, Dominican Republic posted on Wärtsilä).

Sometimes, one plus one does not equal two. The 25,000 inhabitants of Quisqueya, a small town close to San Pedro de Macorís, in the Dominican Republic, know so.

In September 2011, Barrick Gold Corporation acquired a majority share in a soon-to-be-opened gold mine, some 100 kilometres away from the Dominican capital, Santo Domingo. As soon as the mining company understood the needs of their new power-hungry mine, they decided to place an order for a state-of-the-art Wärtsilä power plant. The way in which Barrick, its host country and Wärtsilä would cooperate for the greater good came to exceed the initial expectations of any of the three involved parties and strike gold in an unforeseen way.

The Quisqueya project is a rare combination of two power plants. Due to clever project design it satisfies not only the gold mine’s power needs, but also those of the local population, who often deals with blackouts and an unstable power grid. The dual function came to be as the largest utility in the country, EGE Haina, decided to jump on the boat of efficient and  reliable power generation, turning the initial project to a synergetic effort where the total value exceeds the sum of its parts.

While Quisqueya I is owned and used by Barrick Gold, its twin sister Quisqueya II is run by EGE Haina. Although ordered by different parties, the plants are being built on the same site and together form the largest power plant complex in the world ever delivered by Wärtsilä at the time of the order, setting a new standard for the 21st century power plants. As an outsider, you cannot clearly draw a line between the power supplied to the mine and that supplied to the local community, nor between the corporate profit and the social one. Quisqueya I & II is a beautiful example of how a sensible and responsible utilization of natural resources can directly improve a community’s way of life.

Both Quisqueya plants will feature Wärtsilä Flexicycle™ combined cycle technology and operate on 12 Wärtsilä 50DF dual-fuel engines each. The primary fuel is to be natural gas with liquid fuel as back-up, and the combined output from the two plants will be 430 MW. Wärtsilä’s scope of supply for the Quisqueya power plant includes full engineering, procurement, and construction (EPC). The power plant will have a net efficiencyof 48 %, which is an astonishingly high figure in tropical conditions, with soaring humidity and temperatures above 35°C.

Lucky are the people living near this power-hungry gold mine.  Because it gets top of the line electric power.  That furnished by fossil fuels.  Which can burn no matter what the winds are doing.  Keeping this gold mine in operation.  And giving the people around it reliable electric power.  And if the winds stop blowing these people will still have their power.  And if a hurricane blows through it may down some power lines.  Which can be replaced to restore electric power.  Whereas if a hurricane takes out an offshore wind farm power will be out a lot longer.  Either until they rebuild those very expensive wind turbines (probably requiring huge green tariffs to cover the costs of building this wind farm twice).  Or until they build a new power plant that uses a fossil fuel.

Interesting when a power plant is to power a million homes like the Atlantic Array project in the Bristol Channel a government looks to spend $6.6 billion for unreliable power.  But when a power plant is furnishing something that produces revenue and economic output they don’t build a wind farm power plant.  No, when they need to count on that electric power to be there they turn to fossil fuels.  For the same reason hospitals don’t put wind turbines on their roof for backup electric power during a blackout.  They use backup generators that burn a fossil fuel.  Because they need to count on that electric power to be there.

Fossil fuel is reliable.  While wind power is not.  Which is why governments use fossil fuels for gold mines and hospitals.  And wind power for the people.  Because governments can screw the people to meet silly green power targets with little blowback.  Because, hey, it’s for the environment.

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Those Living Closest to the Worst Nuclear Accidents still favor Nuclear Power

Posted by PITHOCRATES - July 29th, 2012

Week in Review

The ghost of Fukushima doesn’t appear to be haunting nations in the region.  Neither is the ghost of Chernobyl.  The China Syndrome is probably not being downloaded much from Netflix either.  For the people closest to the worst nuclear accidents aren’t spooked by nuclear power in the least (see Nuclear expansion in Asia on track despite Fukushima – report by Eric Onstad posted 7/26/2012n on Reuters).

Strong expansion of nuclear power as a carbon-free energy source in Asia is expected to press ahead despite the Fukushima accident in Japan that soured sentiment in some countries, a benchmark report said on Thursday…

Nuclear capacity is due to expand in East Asia by 125 percent to 185 percent by 2035, the report said. The strongest growth is expected in China, India, South Korea and Russia.

Despite their proximity to Fukushima, despite Chernobyl being the worst nuclear accident of all time, China, India, South Korea and Russia are proceeding with nuclear power.  While the U.S. pursues solar power and wind power.  The number two and number three economies in the world, China and India, are pursuing reliable nuclear power.  While the world’s number one economy, the United States, is pursuing temperamental renewable energy.  So we may see a reshuffling of the world’s top three economic powers.  As one starves itself of energy while the other two just gorge themselves on energy.  Or in other words, they have a sensible energy policy.

Energy drives the modern economy.  Reliable energy.  Countries suffering recurring blackouts don’t have strong economies.  And what energy source provides reliable energy?  Fossil fuel-powered.  Including nuclear.  We rate power generation by its capacity factor (CF).  Which is a measure of actual power produced over a period of time compared to the maximum that could have been produced over that same period.  Hydroelectric dams need rain to keep their reservoirs full.  If the rains don’t come the water isn’t there to drive their water turbines. Which gives a large hydroelectric dam a CF of about 50%.  Or less.  Wind power only works for a narrow band of wind speed.  Giving it a CF of about 30%.  And solar power only works when the sun shines.  Giving it a CF of about 15%.  The CF of fossil fuel-powered plants?  About 90%.  Or more.  Some nuclear plants can even exceed 100%.

This is why China, India, South Korea and Russia are proceeding with nuclear power.  Because it’s reliable power.  And as far as they’re concerned it’s safe power.  It’s also clean power.  So why is the U.S. pursuing wind and solar power?  Because they don’t have as sensible an energy policy as China, India, South Korea and Russia have.  Well, India is abandoning coal like the U.S. is.  But the Indians haven’t abandoned nuclear power like the Americans have.  So the Indians have an edge over the Americans in sensibility.  Even though their electric generation capacity is busting at the seams.  What with a dry rainy season hurting their hydroelectric generation and their move away from coal.

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Hydroelectric Dams can’t make Electricity if it doesn’t Rain

Posted by PITHOCRATES - July 21st, 2012

Week in Review

Some people like to think that renewable energy is the energy of the future.  And that it will be free and abundant.  But with today’s technology it is none of these things.  It is just too unreliable.  And has such low capacity factors (CF).  The CF is a rating we calculate by dividing actual power produced by the amount possible under ideal conditions over a period of time.  Solar panels have a CF of about 20% because there are nights and cloudy days.  Wind farms have a CF of about 30% because there are times the wind doesn’t blow.  Big hydroelectric dams have a CF of about 50%  because there are times when it doesn’t rain (see Erratic monsoon clouds hydro power generation by Sadananda Mohapatra posted 7/18/2012 on the Business Standard).

Hydro power generation in the state may decline over the next couple of weeks due to erratic and deficient monsoon…

Daily generation from seven hydro power plants in the state reached up to 722 MW this week, up from 210 MW in early June. However, as the monsoon rainfall has been below normal so far, power managers feel this could hurt generation in coming days.

“All reservoirs, except Burla, have water levels below or at par with (MDDL) Minimum Draw Down Level. The generations had gone up on expectation of better rainfall, but it has to come down as rainfall has not been satisfactory,” said a senior official of state-run power trader Gridco…

Even though hydro power generation does not contribute significantly to meet the state’s power demand, cash-strapped Gridco depends on it heavily due to its low cost and easier availability. This summer, thermal units operating in the state had to shut down operations frequently due to technical glitch or coal supply problems, compelling the power trader to look for other sources such as captive power plants.

Fossil fuel-fired plants may not be as clean as the renewable energies but they are more reliable.  With capacity factors in excess of 90%.  As long as they aren’t broke.  Or run out of fuel.  Things we can minimize with proper maintenance.  And a sound energy policy.  One that encourages the extraction of fossil fuels from the ground.  Even with this though these plants can go off line because they only have a CF of about 90%.  And sometimes that 10% happens.

Of the renewable energies hydroelectric is the one with the most commercial potential.  A mix of coal and hydro can go a long way in meeting a nation’s energy needs.  One that normally works in India.  When the rains cooperate.  Which they sometimes don’t.  Which limits their capacity factor.  For if the water in the reservoir isn’t high enough it can’t spin those water turbines fast enough.  Or long enough.  And if it falls too low it may not even be able to enter the water inlets that feed those water turbines.  A prolonged dry spell could shut a hydro dam down completely.  Something you never have to worry about with coal.

Renewable energy can help.  But it just can’t replace fossil fuel-generated electric power.  For nothing is more reliable.  Which is a comforting fact when you head home after a tiring day at work.  Knowing that the electricity-provided creature comforts you so enjoy will be there waiting for you.  Thanks in large part to coal.  With the occasional assist from hydroelectric power.

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In the Great Electricity-Generating Race it’s Coal by a Nose over Natural Gas with Solar Power Still in the Barn

Posted by PITHOCRATES - July 15th, 2012

Week in Review

Natural gas is running to catch up and pass coal in the great electricity-generating race.  While solar power is struggling to win a participation ribbon (see The Huge Shift in Our Energy System That’s Happening Right Now in 1 Chart by Alexis Madrigal posted 7/13/2012 on The Atlantic).

As long as Americans have made electricity, they’ve gotten more of it from coal than from any fuel. While petroleum and natural gas have played huge roles in our energy system, coal’s been responsible for more than 65 percent of the fossil-fuel electricity we’ve generated for most of the last 50 years. (And for big chunks of the 20th century, we made half of all the electricity in this country by burning coal.)

But natural gas is in the process of overtaking coal as the top fuel in America — and fast.

There’s a reason coal dominated for so long.  And still does.  For awhile at least.  Generating electricity from coal is more efficient than generating electricity from natural gas.  Coal plants are heat engines.  They produce heat to boil water.  Natural gas plants are more like the jet engines on an airplane.  Where we use the products of combustion, expanding gases, to spin a turbine.  We don’t use it to boil water.  So we waste much of the heat generated from combustion.  Resulting in lower efficiencies than a coal-fired plant.

However, thanks to hydraulic fracturing (aka fracking) the supply of natural gas is exploding (pardon the pun).  Causing prices to tumble.  And because natural gas is now so plentiful and so cheap the poorer efficiencies are less important.  Economically speaking.  So power companies are expanding their natural gas turbines.  Which helps them avoid headaches with the environmentalists.  For natural gas burns cleaner than coal.  So for the foreseeable future it will be roughly 50-50 between coal and natural gas.  But what about renewable energy you ask?  Like solar power?  When will solar power provide 50% of our electricity needs?

Each percentage point of share is roughly 40 million megawatt hours a year. By comparison, all solar projects in 2010 (the last year stats were available) produced 1.3 million megawatt hours.

About 40 million megawatt hours a year per percentage point?  Looking at the chart it looks like coal is currently at 52%.  And natural gas is at 45%.  Or thereabouts.   If you do the math that’s about 3,880 megawatt hours between the two of them.  Or approximately 96.97% of all fossil-fuel generated electricity.  While the 1.3 million megawatt hours of solar power provides about 0.032% of our fossil-fuel generated electricity.  So when will solar power provide 50% of our electricity needs?  Probably never.

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President Obama: Worse President than George W. Bush? Or Worst President Ever?

Posted by PITHOCRATES - July 8th, 2011

Obama Rolling up his Sleeves and Wagging his Finger

President Obama has taken out his wagging finger.  And he has wagged it.  Scolding Republicans to grow up and be like his daughters.  It is interesting he referred his daughters for an example of responsible behavior.  And not himself.  Because his track record on acting responsibly hasn’t been all that good as Charles Krauthammer points out and lists some of his failings (see The Elmendorf Rule by Charles Krauthammer posted 7/8/2011 on The Washington Post).

• Ignored the debt problem for two years by kicking the can to a commission.

• Promptly ignored the commission’s December 2010 report.

• Delivered a State of the Union address in January that didn’t even mention the word “debt” until 35 minutes in.

• Delivered in February a budget so embarrassing — it actually increased the deficit — that the Democratic-controlled Senate rejected it 97 to 0.

• Took a budget mulligan with his April 13 debt-plan speech. Asked in Congress how this new “budget framework” would affect the actual federal budget, Congressional Budget Office Director Doug Elmendorf replied with a devastating “We don’t estimate speeches.” You can’t assign numbers to air.

Not even a modicum of responsibility there.  So he’s rather like the pot calling the kettle black.  He should perhaps have said “do as I say and not as I do even though I do not do as I say you should do but that’s okay because I’m smarter than you so there.  When will all of you finally get this?”

But the Republicans, insolent as they are, refuse to budge.  So Obama had to bring out the wagging finger to discipline these insolent children.  Advising them to be more like his own children.  Who do their homework in a timely manner.

My compliments. But the Republican House did do its homework. It’s called a budget. It passed the House on April 15. The Democratic Senate has produced no budget. Not just this year, but for two years running. As for the schoolmaster in chief, he produced two 2012 budget facsimiles: The first (February) was a farce and the second (April) was empty, dismissed by the CBO as nothing but words untethered to real numbers.

Obama has run disastrous annual deficits of around $1.5 trillion while insisting for months on a “clean” debt-ceiling increase, i.e., with no budget cuts at all. Yet suddenly he now rises to champion major long-term debt reduction, scorning any suggestions of a short-term debt-limit deal as can-kicking.

That’s right, neither the Democrats nor Obama has done any responsible fiscal legislating/governing for the past two years.  Looks like the responsible shoe is on the other foot.  And those deficits?  They’re records.  Over 5 times larger than those world-ending Reagan deficits.  Yet he has the audacity to wag that finger at the Republicans for not being responsible?  Perhaps he should be wagging that finger at himself. 

And what have been Obama’s own debt-reduction ideas? In last week’s news conference, he railed against the tax break for corporate jet owners — six times.

I did the math. If you collect that tax for the next 5,000 years — that is not a typo — it would equal the new debt Obama racked up last year alone. To put it another way, if we had levied this tax at the time of John the Baptist and collected it every year since — first in shekels, then in dollars — we would have 500 years to go before we could offset half of the debt added by Obama last year alone.

Obama’s other favorite debt-reduction refrain is canceling an oil-company tax break. Well, if you collect that oil tax and the corporate jet tax for the next 50 years — you will not yet have offset Obama’s deficit spending for February 2011.

It is clear the president is in reelection mode.  Because he’s stoking the fires of class warfare.  Rich people fly jets.  And own oil companies.  Rich people are getting sweetheart tax deals.  Saving them billions.  And he wants to put a stop to this unfairness.  And make it fair.  It won’t help to erase the deficit at all.  But it gives you something to campaign on.  Which he needs.  Because his policies have been an economic train wreck. 

The June Jobs Report is worse than May’s

How bad have those policies been?  The June jobs report is in.  And it’s worse than May’s (see June Jobs Report Lands With A Thud: Up Just 18,000 by Steve Schaefer posted 7/8/2011 on Forbes).

In a stark reminder that the U.S. economy has been mired in slow growth, the Labor Department reported Friday that nonfarm payrolls added just 18,000 jobs in June and unemployment came in at 9.2%…

The stunning lack of improvement in June’s report – April’s payrolls figure was revised to 217,000 from 232,000 and May’s cut by more than half to 25,000 from 54,000 – rocked Wall Street Friday morning, as index futures sharply reversed after indicating small opening gains earlier. The Dow Jones industrial average, S&P 500 and Nasdaq were all signaling a red start to the trading session after solid gains Thursday.

And as bad as the May report was, the current report revises the May numbers down.  Fewer jobs were added than originally reported.  April’s, too.  It’s a trend.  Both a downward trend in job creation.  And the revising of previous reports.  Which means the anemic 18,000 jobs reported in June will likely be revised down in the July report.  There’s no good economic news out there.  The stimulus spending failed in a big way.  Which is why Obama is resorting to class warfare.  Because economically he has been an utter and absolute failure.

The June Jobs Report is even worse than it Says

And as bad as the June report was, it’s worse (see Without Dropouts, Jobless Rate Would Be Over 11% by Phil Izzo posted 7/8/2011 on The Wall Street Journal).

The share of the population in the jobs market, called the labor-force participation rate, fell to 64.1% last month — the lowest level since 1984 when women were still just beginning to enter in full force… The participation rate was 66% at the start of the recession and 65.7% when the recovery started in June 2009. If the participation rate were still at that level, the unemployment rate would be more than 11% right now…

There’s also a problem of underemployment. A comprehensive gauge of labor underutilization, known as the “U-6″ for its data classification by the Labor Department, accounts for people who have stopped looking for work or who can’t find full-time jobs. That number shot up in June to 16.2% from 15.8% a month earlier.

If we count the people who have given up looking for a job the actual unemployment rate would be as a high as 11%.  If you add in all those only working part-time because they can’t find a full-time job the unemployment rate jumps up to 16.2%.  These are horrible numbers.  How horrible?  These are more Great Depression numbers than George W. Bush numbers.

The Green Energy Bubble

America became the world’s largest economy thanks to the innovation of the private sector.  Great entrepreneurs like Andrew Carnegie, John D. Rockefeller and Henry Ford took risks.  The government didn’t have to tell them how to make steel better, more plentiful and cheaper.  Or how to make gasoline better, more plentiful and cheaper.  Or how to make automobiles better, more plentiful and cheaper.  That’s capitalism in the free market.  The private sector takes risks in pursuit of profits.  And when it does it makes things better, more plentiful and cheaper.  When people like Carnegie, Rockefeller and Ford are left alone to do what they know how to do best.  Create wealth.  And jobs.

Obama, on the other hand, believes he knows best.  That he’s smarter than these entrepreneurs.  And that he can direct the private sector to do his bidding.  Which, of course, in his Ivy League world, should result with economic activity.  And jobs.  Even if you’re telling people to build stuff the market doesn’t want (see The Coming Clean Tech Crash by Devon Swezey posted 7/7/2011 on Forbes).

The global clean energy industry is set for a major crash. The reason is simple. Clean energy is still much more expensive and less reliable than coal or gas, and in an era of heightened budget austerity the subsidies required to make clean energy artificially cheaper are becoming unsustainable.

Clean tech crashes are nothing new. The U.S. wind energy industry has collapsed three times before, first in the mid 1990s and most recently in 2002 and 2004 when Congress failed to extend the tax credit that made it profitable. But the impact and magnitude of the coming clean tech crash will far outstrip those of past years.

After one of the worst housing bubbles in U.S. history we now have a green energy bubble.  That’s about to pop.  And you know what happens when a bubble pops?  You get a recession.  To correct for all that malinvestment (to borrow a little Austrian School vernacular).  Which is pretty bad considering we’re still trying to recover from the first bubble.  And may very well still be in a recession despite all the massaging of economic data to say otherwise.  So if we’re still in a recession perhaps the pop of this bubble will push us into depression.  If we’re not in one already.  Based on those god-awful employment numbers.

As part of its effort to combat the economic recession, the federal government pumped nearly $80 billion in direct investment and tax credits into the clean energy sector, catalyzing an unprecedented industry expansion. Solar energy, for example, grew 67% in the United States in 2010. The U.S. wind energy industry also experienced unprecedented growth as a result of the generous Section 1603 clean energy stimulus program. The industry grew by 40% and added 10 GW of new turbines in 2009. Yet many of the federal subsidies that have driven such rapid growth are set to expire in the next few years, and clean energy remains unable to compete without them.

The crash won’t be limited to the United States. In many European countries, clean energy subsidies have become budget casualties as governments attempt to curb mounting deficits. Spain, Germany, France, Italy and the Czech Republic have all announced cuts to clean energy subsidies.

Can’t compete without them?  So what was the point in giving them all of those subsidies in the first place?  Were we forever going to pay for a more costly energy while less costly energy (i.e., fossil fuel) was available?  Apparently so.   Being that the life-blood of an economy is energy that would have just raised the cost of all businesses.  And the price of all consumer goods.  Less disposable income means less demand.  Less demand means fewer jobs.  Not a good plan, really.  Unless your goal is to put the country into a depression.

And the problem is global.  So the coming economic crisis will be global.  As if the European Union didn’t have enough financial crises on their hands already.  This could even hurt those emerging markets of China, India and Brazil.  Who depend on these export markets.  As we depend on them.  To buy our debt.

The U.S. has tried this clean energy before.  And all of these attempts ended in failure.  For the reasons already noted.  But if we’ve tried this so many times before, why haven’t we figured out how to do it right?  To find that innovation that makes it cost-competitive with fossil fuels?

Why is the United States still locked in this self-perpetuating boom-bust cycle in clean energy? The problem, according to a new essay by energy experts David Victor and Kassia Yanosek in this week’s Foreign Affairs, is that our system of clean energy subsidization is jury-rigged to support the deployment of only the least-risky and most mature clean energy technologies, while lacking clear incentives for continual innovation that could make clean energy competitive on cost with conventional energy sources. Rather, we should “invest in more innovative technologies that stand a better chance of competing with conventional energy sources over the long haul.” According to Victor and Yanosek, nearly seven-eighths of global clean energy investment goes toward deploying existing technologies that aren’t competitive without subsidy, while only a small share goes to encouraging innovation in existing technologies or developing new ones.

Oh, that’s why.  Because the government is in the business of picking winners and losers when it comes to the lottery of free government money.  Which is par for the course.  For government spending is about political cronyism.  That money is spent based on political forces.  Not market forces.  Which is a shame.  Because spending that money isn’t necessary.  Because there is an incentive to create cost-competitive green energy.  Unfortunately, that incentive is being distorted by the government subsidies.

It is clear that the current budgetary environment in the United States presents challenges to the viability of the fast-growing clean energy industry. But it also presents an opportunity. By repurposing existing clean energy policies and investing in clean energy innovation, the United States can be the first country to make clean energy cheap and reliable, a distinction that is sure to bring major economic benefits in a multi-trillion dollar energy market.

Get rid of all that malinvestment and that multi-trillion dollar energy market will provide the necessary incentive for the private sector to solve the green energy problem. Making it cost competitive with fossil fuels.  For whoever cracks that nut will be the next Carnegie.  The next Rockefeller.  The next Ford. 

You want to create a green energy market?  Okay, I’ll tell you how to do it.  Step one, get government the hell out of the way.  Step two, eliminate the capital gains tax.  That will motivate people to spend money on solving the problem because if they’re successful they’ll be richer than the Kennedys.  Step three, enjoy your green energy.

Barack Obama and his Keynesian Economics have Failed

President Obama has no chance of reelection if he has to run on his economic record.  Because his economic record may prove to be the worst of all time.  And he knows it.  Hence the finger wagging.  And the class warfare.  He has spent more than any other president.  And not just a little more.  A lot more.  Before him the worst post-war federal deficits were around $200-400 billion.  Since Obama they’re around $1.5 trillion.  And yet he scolds Republicans for being irresponsible because they refuse to raise the debt limit without getting real spending cuts.  As if the Republicans spent all of that money.  Not him.  Or his Democrats.  If he was so worried about defaulting on American debt obligations he shouldn’t have spent money his administration didn’t have.  But he did.  And now he’s wagging his finger at Republicans.

And what did we get for all that spending?  Further proof that he and his administration are economically incompetent.  Government spending doesn’t create jobs.  And government doesn’t know better than the private sector.  He can talk with all the righteous indignation and all-knowing condescension he wants but it doesn’t change that fact.  America’s greatest economic achievements and innovation was done without Government butting into the private sector.

Barack Obama and his Keynesian economics have failed.  Time to try something new.

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Save the Economy or Save the Planet, it’s One or the Other

Posted by PITHOCRATES - June 5th, 2011

Pushing back against the EPA’s Assault against Business

With the economy in the toilet where it will probably remain for a long time to come, a lot of people have given up on environmentalism.  They take a look around them and see that things look pretty good.  Environmental-wise.  In fact, it’s a regular paradise compared to all the environmentalists’ alarmist predictions from a decade or two ago.  Which look rather silly today.  Children in the UK will no longer know what snow is.  The overwhelming stench of dead fish decaying on America’s beaches (killed by warming ocean temperatures).  Flooded coastal areas due to melting of Arctic ice.  None of it happened as predicted.  We got all worked up over nothing.  That’s why environmentalism is more of a young person’s game.  Because after you lived through 20-30 years of failed predictions, you tend to grow a little skeptical.  Especially during times of high unemployment.

That’s why a lot of people don’t give a rat’s rear end about global warming now.  They want a job.  And the way they see it, all this environmentalist nonsense is killing the job market.  And the Republican-controlled House they’re starting to push back on the job killer itself.  The EPA (see Soaring emissions posted 6/2/2011 on The Economist).

The Republicans’ chief concern is the EPA’s authority, as affirmed by the Supreme Court in 2007, to regulate emissions of greenhouse gases. But more broadly they worry that the EPA is constantly tightening restrictions on pollution, at ever higher cost to business but with diminishing returns in terms of public health. They point to a slew of new rules about industrial boilers, cooling water at power plants, the disposal of coal ash, and emissions of mercury, ozone and other chemicals from smokestacks, which cumulatively, they say, will have a crippling effect on power generation and other industries. “Even God,” says Joe Barton, a Republican congressman, “couldn’t meet some of the ozone standards.”

…The Republican leadership in the House has accused the administration of plotting to raise the price of energy through onerous regulation, in an effort to promote otherwise uncompetitive green technologies. It wants the EPA to give more weight to the impact on the economy and jobs when drawing up future rules.

The Obama administration has.  And is.  Trying to raise the price of ‘cheap’ energy to promote their green energy initiatives.  It’s on record they want gasoline to cost as much in the U.S. as it does in Europe (as in $8/gallon).  To make more costly and shorter-range electric cars easier to sell.  And they want to do the same with cheap fossil fuel-produced electricity.  To make more costly and less reliable wind and solar generated electricity easier to sell.

EPA officials appear baffled by this barrage of hostility… The agency, they say, already conducts cost-benefit analyses of all important regulations, in addition to submitting them for expert review and public comment. Every dollar spent on pollution controls mandated by the Clean Air Act, including the ozone restrictions that Mr Barton is complaining about, will bring $30 in benefits to public health, the EPA reckons.

Expert review and comment?  By who?  It certainly isn’t the businesses affected by their regulations.  Who know exactly the costs their regulations will add.  No, they can’t be the experts.  Not when they are protesting the onerous costs these regulations are adding.

And the $30 in benefits for every dollar spent on pollution controls is a specious argument.  No one can know this.  It’s made up math based on fallacious assumptions and unrealistic projections.  Much like the math they used some 2-3 decades ago when they made all those alarmist global warming predictions that never came true.

Saving the Trees but Killing the Planet

We were saving the trees going to a paperless world thanks to the Internet.  Little did we know that we were killing the planet by saving those trees (see Could the Net be killing the planet one web search at a time? by Alex Roslin, for Post Media News, posted 6/3/2011 on The Vancouver Sun).

Ironically, despite the web’s green promise, this explosion of data has turned the Internet into one of the planet’s fastest-growing sources of carbon emissions. The Internet now consumes two to three per cent of the world’s electricity…

The bulk of all this energy is gobbled up by a fast-growing network of huge “server farms” or data centres that form the backbone of the Internet. They are hush-hush facilities, some the size of five Wal-Marts, packed from floor to ceiling with tens of thousands of computers…

All those computers have a voracious appetite for energy, especially for cooling equipment to prevent overheating.

This means that every time you do an Internet search you’re releasing polluting carbon into the atmosphere.  Because the majority of our cheap and reliable electricity is produced with cheap and reliable fossil fuels.  And some of these server farms are fossil fuel beasts with voracious appetites.

Apple’s mega-facility is part of a cluster of gigantic new data centres coming on line in North Carolina that are powered largely by cheap and highly polluting coal power. Google has a 44,000-square-metre data centre in the state that eventually will consume an estimated 60 to 100 MW. Facebook has a 28,000-square-metre facility under construction there that will eat up 40 MW.

Greenpeace calls the three facilities “North Carolina’s dirty data triangle.” Coal, it says, is the most polluting of all fossil fuels and the world’s single largest source of greenhouse gas emissions.

“The technologies of the 21st century are still largely powered by the dirty coal power of the past,” the environmental group said in a report card on the IT sector in April, titled How Dirty is Your Power?

There is a reason why we use so much coal.  And it’s not because we hate the planet.

North Carolina offers industrial customers one of the lowest electricity rates in the U.S. — 5.8 cents per kilowatt hour, versus the U.S. average of 6.7 cents.

It just so happens that the state’s electricity is also some of the dirtiest in the country. Nearly two-thirds of the state’s electricity comes from coal.

And here is the tradeoff between global warming and jobs.  Coal is dirty but cheap.  Which keeps electricity costs down.  Which attracts business.  Like in North Carolina.  Other locations lost these new jobs because their environmental policies made energy more expensive in those locations.

The real solution, [Bill St. Arnaud, an engineer and green IT consultant in Ottawa] said, is for governments to impose measures like carbon taxes and emissions caps that make dirty energy less attractive financially.

“The planet is warming up, and it’s going to get very bad. We need a price on carbon. It’s the only way to get people to move off coal because coal is currently so cheap,” he said.

The environmentalist want to raise the cost of electricity.  So cheap coal-generated electricity isn’t so cheap.  So business have no less costly solution.  Thus guaranteeing their costs will rise.  Making them look elsewhere to cut costs.  As in not hiring people.  Or laying them off.  All the while passing these higher costs onto the consumer.  Increasing their utility costs.  As well as the goods they purchase.  Leaving them with less disposable income.  Thus reducing economic activity.  With them buying less business will sell less.  Which means they won’t expand.  Instead, they’ll probably cut their production.  And lay off people.

However you look at it, increasing the cost of energy ends badly for the consumer.  And that’s exactly what the EPA wants to do.  And the Obama administration.  So they can implement their green initiatives.  And, of course, adding a tax on carbon, the most abundant byproduct of energy production, provides a lot of revenue for an overextended federal government.  Which is, I’m sure, just a coincidence.  And by coincidence I mean it’s the driving force behind all green initiatives.  Increasing tax revenue.

The EU wants to Emission Tax the World’s Airlines

But this is not an American phenomenon.  It’s even bigger in the European Union.  And they’re looking to export their regulations to other nations (see Airlines, EU in escalating trade row over emissions by David Fogarty and Pete Harrison posted 6/5/2011 on Reuters).

Global airlines attacked the European Union on Sunday over its plan to force them into the bloc’s emissions trading scheme, as the EU vowed to stand firm against threats of retaliation…

The EU will require all airlines flying to Europe to be included in the Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) from January 1 next year. The system forces polluters to buy permits for each tone of carbon dioxide they emit above a certain cap.

You want to fly to the EU?  Well, that’s fine, but there’ll be an additional tax.  You see, we’re trying to save the planet.  And our treasury.  As these EU bailouts are getting expensive.  And don’t appear to be ending any time soon.

Airlines say the scheme will increase costs and comes at a time when fears are growing about a faltering global economy, which could slash industry profit expectations…

“The last thing that we want to see is a trade war,” said Giovanni Bisignani, director-general of the International Air Transport Association. The EU had to heed a “growing chorus of countries strongly opposing an illegal extraterritorial scheme.”

“We have to absolutely avoid this because the risk of retaliation for Europe that is in survival mode would be the kiss of death,” he told Reuters on the sidelines of IATA’s annual meeting in Singapore.

The younger people today may not know what a trade war is.  It’s when one country raises the price of doing business in your country to every other country trying to do business in your country.  This is to protect the higher-priced domestic industries.  By removing lower-priced consumer alternatives.  When countries retaliate by doing the same you get a trade war.  And it is the consumer who suffers.  Because everything they buy becomes more expensive.  Oh, and it was a trade war that caused the Great Depression.

Under the scheme, the aviation sector will receive 213 million carbon permits, called EU Allowances (EUAs) in 2012 and then 209 million from 2013 to 2020, representing the cap. As many as 82 percent of them will be given free to airlines, meaning most of the rest will have to be bought from the market.

With six months before the sector joins the ETS, opposition is growing.

A China Southern executive has said the China Air Transport Association is preparing to sue the EU over the issue, a Chinese media report said.

“The opposition is broad,” said Andrew Herdman, Director-General of the Association of Asia Pacific Airlines, which represents 15 airlines such as Cathay, Japan Airlines and Singapore Airlines…

China says Europe should adjust the ETS to reflect the differences between rich and poor countries, while Vijay Mallya, chairman of India’s Kingfisher Airlines, said he could not accept it.

The EU may know what’s best for the planet.  And their bank.  But the world doesn’t appear that it will sit back and transfer sovereignty and money to them without a protest.  Or a fight.  Perhaps even a trade war.  Which would be a bad thing as much of the world tries to pull itself out of the worst recession since the Great Depression.  And it would be a terrible shame for history to repeat itself on that score.  For one Great Depression was quite enough.

Carbon Taxes and Carbon Trading kills Jobs and crashes Economies

Green energy initiatives are just a cover for massive tax increases.  For desperate nations who can’t control their spending.  That’s why nations everywhere are fighting against carbon taxes and trading.  They see the cost to business.  And the jobs they will kill.  It’s not that they want to kill the planet.  They just don’t want to subsidize another nation’s financial problems.  Or see their own economies crash.  Which it will under a carbon taxing/trading scheme.

Environmental policies and economic activity are a trade off. You advance one by reducing the other.   Which makes advancing environmental policies during recessionary times difficult.  Because it’s one thing to save the planet when you have a job.  But another when you don’t.  At such a time, yes, you care about the planet.  But you care more about your family.  You think to yourself that the planet can take care of itself.  It survived ice ages.  Cataclysmic meteorite collisions.  Huge volcanic explosions.  Droughts.  Fires.  Hurricanes.  Tornadoes.  Earthquakes.  Plagues.  And if it can survive all that, you think it’ll be able to survive your having a job so you can support your family.

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