Wind power is the wrong remedy to Europe’s growing dependence on Russian gas. For the very unregularily generated wind power needs to be compensated by gas turbines which can easily be turned on and off. Many wind power investors are in reality speculating on rising natural gas demand. I’m demonstrating this in a new analysis which was published on 11 September 2008 in Wall Street Journal.
Is it Possible to Found World Politics on Science?
When I was writing these lines I received a piece of news that an US senate committee had to postpone a debate on Global Warming because of an icy snow storm over the US East coast. However, this weather capriole only confirms what more and more people think. They do no longer believe in man-made global warming. “We are witnessing the Berlin Wall moment in the global warming regime. The statist cabal that has ruled the climate debate since the UN IPCC’s inception in 1988 is now tumbling down before our eyes. The so-called ‘gold-standard’ of scientific review turns out to be counterfeit.” This is the conclusion of our friend Marc Morano from the “Climategate”, “Glaciergate” and so on scandals that caused the rapid decline of the scientific reputation and credibility of the Nobel prize winning Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and its chairman Rajendra Pachauri.
“AGW is the biggest and most far-reaching scientific scandal in history, whose tentacles spread into almost every aspect of our lives, from how we dispose of our trash and how we light up our homes, to how we travel and how we are taxed and regulated.” This is star blogger James Delingpole’s conclusion from the series of science frauds that he had outlined. In opposition to leading members of the IPCC who are now claiming Pachauri’s demission in order to save what is remaining from climate policy after the Copenhagen fiasco James Delingpole ironically asks him to stay.
We know from chemicals policy: If scientific disputes become political issues, the main danger is not biasing the researcher’s answers but their questions. So I prefer to ask: Do we really need an intergovernmental scientific advisory council like IPCC? Would the Global Warming issue even exist without the IPCC? Are there really global problems that need to be resolved by global governance? I think that there is no affirmative answer to these questions. For it becomes now day by day more evident that climate change is natural and cannot be stopped by humans. There is no alternative to adaptation by local and regional initiatives because a “world climate” does not exist and has never existed, instead there are many regional and local climates. That is why central planning (like global carbon rationing) is absolutely counterproductive. Last but not least we do not need scientific advice on global questions when politics remain focussed on local and regional issues. (11 February 2010)
Par Edgar L. Gärtner
Carbon Fraud is paving the way for a dictatorial world government
While EU representatives are praising the European Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) in Copenhagen as panacea, European law enforcement agency Europol is revealing that carbon credit fraud has caused in the past 18 months more than 5 bn euros damage for European taxpayers. In some countries up to 90 percent of the whole trading volume was caused by fraudulent activities. It is easy and perfectly legal for small dealers who have experience in computer and cell phone trading to buy European Unit Allowances (EUA) in one EU member state without VAT and to sell them in another country by taking the usual VAT rate from the buyer. The operation becomes illegal when the trader does not transfer the kept back VAT to the local tax authority. All and above the buyer can resell the certificates abroad and get the VAT reimbursed by the local tax authority. German tax authorities at present are investigating some 40 companies that traded CO2 certificates for allegedly taking advantage of loopholes in sales tax laws to bilk the tax office out of hundreds of millions of euros. British Financial Services Authority (FSA) even estimates that the loss of tax revenue could soon reach two or three million euros. In the meantime Britain like France, the Netherlands and Spain have shifted the tax burden from the sellers to the buyers in order to prevent fraudulent emissions trading.
But there are even more subtle fraud opportunities in Kyoto’s Clean Development Mechanism (CDM). With the help of this scheme companies can earn carbon credits if they support poorer countries by investing in new CO2 saving power plants and other clean technologies that would not have a chance without CDM. For getting carbon credits funders of CDM projects have to demonstrate that they will cut greenhouse gas emissions below “business as usual” level. This is not difficult for cost and benefits calculations can easily be manipulated. Recently an UN committee has refused the approval of a wind farm project near Harbin in north-eastern China for it was obvious that Chinese government had artificially lowered the windmills feed-in tariff in order to qualify the project for CDM funding. David G. Victor from the University of California at San Diego estimates that up to two thirds of all CDM credits that amount to some $ 7 bn worldwide have rewarded investors whose projects would have been realized without CDM.
That’s just the beginning. Emissions traders are expecting from the Copenhagen Summit a signal for a general takeoff of their business. The global emissions trading volume is estimated to reach some two trillion dollars. No wonder that criminals from everywhere are attracted by the new market. On 7 December the London Times remembered UN’s “Oil-for-Food” scandal and warned that a global emission trading system “almost begs decision-makers to make politicised, if not outright corrupt, rulings.” Already IPCC chief Rajendra Pachauri is accused to profit from nearly $ 2 bn carbon credits created by the closing of the Corus Redcar steelmaking plant in Britain.
There is one lesson to draw from these examples: If it is already very difficult to control the international oil trade it is nearly impossible to supervise the traffic of virtual products like CO2 certificates. Thus globalisation of emissions trading is likely to lead to a global police state. Lord Christopher Monckton has drawn the attention to the fact that the following paragraph of draft Copenhagen Treaty is clearly envisaging a world government: “The government will be ruled by the COP with the support of a new subsidiary body on adaptation, and of an Executive Board responsible for the management of the new funds and the related facilitative processes and bodies. The current Convention secretariat will operate as such, as appropriate.” (14 December 2009)
The Battle against „Cap & Trade“ has still not been won. But there are new Allies
By Edgar L. Gärtner
While in the US Senate the disclosed confidential e-mails and documents on the web, regardless of how it occurred, is expected to pull the plug on “cap and trade” legislation, EU governments continue to walk straight ahead, although the expression “Climategate” is meanwhile even known on Wikipedia. The new German environment minister Norbert Röttgen shows still confidence that the Copenhagen Summit will find a binding agreement on CO2 emission caps and thus open the way for world wide CO2 rationing by emissions trading. He seems not at all impressed by American climate scientist Manuel Zorita’s open letter published on the website of the German coastal research institute GKSS, where Zorita currently works. In this letter Zorita is asking for exclusion of Michael Mann, Phil Jones and Stefan Rahmstorf from the IPCC process because those leading IPCC members have obviously “hijacked scientific debate to advance other agendas”. One of the consequences of this request was the temporary step down of CRU head Phil Jones from his function.
The real reason behind the apparent stubbornness of EU’s political class is the fact that the European Emissions Trading System (ETS) is already on its way. It would have to be changed or even completely stopped, if other parts of the world do not follow this way. The Copenhagen Climate Summit is probably the last chance for promoting a worldwide Cap & Trade system. Its failure would be very bad news for European welfare states. ETS in fact would have the same effect as a carbon tax which was for the very first time proposed in 1988 by Swedish Prime Minister Ingvar Carlsson in order to stop the progression of the Scandinavian country’s repulsive high income tax and to put the financing of the inflated welfare state’s budget on a firmer foundation. It seems that IPCC was specially created in order to promote the idea of the carbon tax worldwide with the help of (pseudo-)scientific arguments. This would explain why Carlsson’s special adviser Bert Bolin became IPCC’s first president. Since carbon tax revealed very unpopular, economists were charged to hide the tax proposal behind the emissions trading system which would have the same effect for the states’ finances. A friend of mine even also considers that “Climategate” was lanced consciously by promoters of cap & trade in order to push Western governments to realize the last opportunity for a break through.
I do not support this conspiracy hypothesis. However, I agree with the opinion that Copenhagen is the last chance for a generalised cap & trade system. For there is now much larger pressure from China and other emerging economies whose leaders have noticed that Copenhagen offers them a chance to break Western dominance. In the Chinese view, Western “climate policy” is suicidal. China and other developing countries prefer defending their right to develop in contrast to such policy of death. One of the speakers of the new movement against Western global warming crusade is our African colleague Fiona Kobusingye, chairman of the human rights and economic development group CORE Uganda. “Telling Africans they can’t have electricity and economic development – except what can be produced with some wind turbines or little solar panels – is immoral. It is a crime against humanity. Meanwhile, China and India are building new coal-fired power plants every week, so that they can lift their people out of poverty. So even if Africa remains impoverished – and the US and Europe switched to windmills and nuclear power – global carbon dioxide levels would continue increasing for decades” Fiona Kobusingye declared recently. (4 December 2009)
By EDGAR GÄRTNER
September 11, 2008
Following Russia’s invasion of Georgia, a vital link between Europe and the energy resources of Central Asia, energy security is back at the top of Europe’s agenda. For years now, many Europeans thought that a major part of their future energy security might come from wind turbines and solar panels. Industry, too, has suggested that this may be the case: At this summer’s World Petroleum Congress in Madrid, most major oil and gas companies presented new plans for big renewable energy projects. But this renewables push, particularly when it comes to wind, is probably just a very clever short-term business strategy that will not improve Europe’s geopolitical situation.
Wind turbines generate electricity very irregularly, because the wind itself is inconsistent. Therefore wind turbines always need backup power from fossil fuels to keep the electricity grid in balance. Gas turbines are the best way to do this. They are able to respond quickly and push power production when wind generators stop suddenly. They can be turned on and off almost instantly, whereas traditional coal-fired plants need to be maintained in a very inefficient standby mode if they are to respond to large fluctuations in power demand.
A proliferation of windmills, then, can become a windfall for gas sellers. Just look at the cases of Spain and Germany, Europe’s leading producers of wind power.
By the end of 2007 Spain had 14,700 megawatts (MW) of installed wind capacity, according to Enagás, which manages the national gas network, producing 8.7% of the country’s total power supplies. Most of these wind generators are located in scarcely populated areas, while the power consumption is concentrated in big cities with their many air-conditioned buildings. The peak load of the Spanish power grid is thus in the hot summer months—but this is precisely the time of year when there usually isn’t much wind.
For this reason, more and more gas turbines are being installed near consumers in the suburbs of Spain’s cities. Only last year, Spanish power providers added 6,400 MW of gas-turbine power capacity, taking the total installed capacity of gas turbines to 21,000 MW. Natural gas has become the main source of electricity generation in Spain, and according to Enagás, 99.8% of the gas used in Spain is imported. Most of this comes via pipeline from Algeria, but the import of liquid natural gas (LNG) by ships will increase.
In Germany, more than 20,000 wind turbines with a total capacity of 21,400 MW are now „embellishing“ landscapes. Wind power’s share of total electricity generation has risen in line with that of natural gas since 1990. Germany’s gas consumption for power generation more than doubled between 1990 and 2007, and now represents 11.7% of the country’s total power generation. The country imported 83% of its natural gas supplies.
Today part of the wind power backup in Germany is still done by old coal-fired plants. But the Greens and even parts of the governing Christian and Social Democratic parties are fervently opposed to the construction of new coal plants. So many old power stations will probably be replaced by gas turbines. The green opponents of new coal-fired plants are nowadays the most dependable allies of the big gas companies such as Gazprom, Shell or BP.
Most European countries force consumers to subsidize electricity from wind power. This makes „renewables“ a very safe investment compared with other energy businesses, where swings in commodity prices can be large. As Europe’s big integrated oil and gas companies—such as Shell, BP and Total—invest more and more in LNG, they are also lobbying hard for a world-wide carbon-emissions trading system that would further increase the advantage of gas over coal.
In the U.S. the same thing is happening. The problem for the natural gas industry in the U.S. is that gas is still relatively inexpensive compared with market prices elsewhere in the world. There are no facilities for LNG export. This may explain why Shell, BP, Chevron and T. Boone Pickens are investing in wind power. It’s a clever strategy to add value to their gas assets by boosting demand.
These gas players can afford to lose money on wind power in the short term to reap huge profits in the long term. In fact, this was the strategy first implemented by Ken Lay of Enron in 1990s. Enron was the power and gas company that started the first large-scale manufacturing of wind power in the U.S. It also brought up the ideas for a cap-and-trade system, to increase the competitive edge of gas over coal.
Wind power is clearly not reducing the dependence on imported fuel, contrary to the frequent claims of its proponents. In fact the experience from Germany and Spain shows that it is increasing the dependence of imported natural gas. And that’s not energy security.
Mr. Gärtner is a specialized writer on energy and chemicals issues based in Frankfurt.
(Copyright: Dow Jones WSJ)
The Bali Climate Talks and Solar Cycle 24
07 DEC 2007 – While the EU is still not on track to meet its own Kyoto targets by 2012, it is trying in the ongoing UN climate talks in Bali to obtain from other developed countries a 30% CO2-emissions reduction commitment by 2020 and even a 60-80 % reduction commitment by 2050 as well as „fair and effective contributions“ by developing countries in order to limit the rise of the global average temperature to 2°C above the pre-industrial level. All these claims are justified by the recent reports of the IPCC which are based exclusively on numerical computer simulations that do not take in account most of the sun’s influence on the earth’s climate.
In a recently published scientific paper N. Scafetta and B. J. West, two eminent specialists of thermodynamics, are demonstrating that global warming since the Little Ice Age of the 17th century was probably induced for one half (or even more) by the rising sun activity after the Maunder Minimum of sunspots which had caused this cooling. Since the 24th sunspot cycle (after yr. 1750), which is just starting, is expected by nearly all experts to be a rather feeble one, the resulting cooling on earth would begin after an approximately ten years‘ time lag due principally to the ocean’s thermal inertia. Indeed, earth’s mean temperature is already stationary since the 1998 peak due to a strong El Niño event. If this stagnation is followed by a net cooling, the EU can hardly persuade China, India and other rising economies to participate in the costly battle against the global warming scare.
The End of the Nuclear Radiation Scare?
01 DEC 2007 – Last week the German news magazine Der Spiegel, which has never been suspected of any sympathy for the nuclear industry, surprised its readers with a story about the long range effects of the explosion of a nuclear waste tank that took place in 1957 in a secret Siberian plutonium bomb factory called Mayak. As part of the EU’s SOUL (Southern Urals Radiation Risk)) project, physicists from Europe’s largest radiation protection institute (in the GSF Research Center on Health and Environment near Munich) have now analysed thousands of samples of soil, brick, blood, urine – and even teeth, kidney and liver – in order to determine the long range effects of the heavy irradiation to which men and environment were subject at that time. The main conclusion of the GSF’s work: The horrors of Mayak are much less extensive than believed. GSF has examined the life stories of 6,293 humans who were directly exposed to plutonium at the factory from 1948 to 1972. „So far 301 have died of lung cancer,“ GSF researcher Peter Jacob reports. But only 100 cases were caused by radiation. The others are attributed to cigarettes.
Der Spiegel writer Matthias Schulz commented these results as follows: „The findings hardly jive with the popular image of the atom as evil incarnate.“ There is no reason to call the more recent Chernobyl meltdown a „nuclear genocide“ causing not less than 500,000 deaths, as the competing German newsmagazine Focus was asserted. „In Germany, where nuclear fears have coalesced with the scare of forest decline and mad cow disease into a general psychosis of threat, the degree of concern over nuclear radiation remains high. To this day, some are so fearful about the long-term effects of fallout from Chernobyl that they refuse to eat mushrooms from Bavaria. Even 20 years ago such behaviour would not have made sense“, writes Schulz. I would add nothing to this conclusion.
What the Bursting US Ethanol Bubble is Teaching Us
21 NOV 2007 – Under the title “Ethanol Backlash” The Wall Street Journal on 12 November reported on growing opposition in the US Senate against expanding subsidies for corn-based ethanol financed by new oil taxes. One of the reasons advanced are the negative impact of ethanol production on scare irrigation water supplies. Two days later the French newspaper “Le Figaro” explained that there is another reason behind the decrease in support for President Bush’s ethanol policy, which is officially destined to lessen the US dependence on oil imports, but is probably instead serving to buy the Iowa farmer’s votes.
This reason is a heavy distortion on the artificially created market for corn-based ethanol. Subsidies have pushed US farmers to augment the corn growing area by 15 percent. This made fall the ethanol price from $ 2,20 per gallon in 2006 to $ 1,50 at present. US annual domestic demand for ethanol is actually below 27 billion litres whereas production capacities will reach over 45 billion litres next year. Ethanol surpluses are partly shipped to Western Europe where they are feared to damage local production as well as imports from poorer countries. (For more profound analysis of the US ethanol market please see: Havard Magazine) Leading ethanol companies like VeraSun Energy are already stopping investment projects. This shows that well intended politically induced markets are often all but sustainable. Will this serve as lesson to the EU’s “Renewables” policy?
Wind Turbines Make You Ill
16 NOV 2007 – We have already learned that large wind turbines cannot save money and carbon dioxide (see my posting from 23 October 2007). Yet the decisive argument against the broad development of wind power comes perhaps from medical and acoustical research. Portuguese
Occupational health specialists Miguel Monteiro, José Reis Ferreira, Mariana Alves-Pereira and Nuno A. A. Castelo Branco presented in August 2007 at the “Internoise 2007” conference in Istanbul/Turkey and in September 2007 at the Second International Meeting on Wind Turbine Noise in Lyon/France the results of their research demonstrating that prolonged exposure to infrasound and low frequency noise (ILFN) below 500 Hz and especially below 10 Hz is causing a potentially mortal whole body pathology (pericardial thickening, cardio-vascular and bronchial lesions etc.) named Vibroacoustic Disease (VAD). If the findings of the Portuguese doctors are confirmed, it would no longer be reasonable to install wind turbines in settled areas for ILFN is passing even thick walls. German geologists from the governmental institute for geology and raw materials (BGR) in Hannover are even reporting that no serious seismic measurement is possible in a perimeter of 25 kilometres around wind turbines.
Useless Energy Saving Investments
07 NOV 2007 – Numeric climate change models, on which the IPCC reports are based, are principally unable to tell us something about the future evolution of the earth’s mean temperature. Uncertainties in projections of future climate change have not lessened substantially in past decades. Making these models more and more complex will not reduce uncertainties. These are the deceptive conclusions of a statistical analysis that Professors Gerald Roe and Marcia Baker of the University of Washington published recently in Science magazine (vol 318, p 582) and which were reported on 25 October by the New Scientist magazine. In short: Computer models cannot predict if the earth’s atmosphere will continue to warm up or if we are facing the new Little Ice Age which was announced by Russian astronomers.
How could we cope with this uncomfortable situation? Will the billions of euros of energy saving investments destined to “save the climate” reveal useless? Not at all, answer the advocates of a climate policy focussed on CO2 reduction. Saving energy will always be a good thing. But is this true if there are too meagre returns or no returns at all? Our British friend Professor emeritus Philip Stott in his daily “hot topic blog” pointed out that according to the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) isolating an average UK house cost you some £23,547 up front, but return you only £486 per annum from reduced fuel bills. Our friend Vincent Bénard from the Institut Hayek in Brussels reported that the energy saving measures recommended by the French stakeholders forum “Grenelle de l’environnement” (see my last week’s blog) would cost the owner of an average apartment of 100 square meters at least €25,000 i.e. the equivalent of a French person’s median annual income (before taxation).
Swiss architect Paul Bossert even affirms: Many investments thought to reduce fuel consumption are completely useless. He found in a survey that in Switzerland buildings from the twenties of the last century have the lowest energy consumption. Many construction techniques developped later on did not hold their promises. My conclusion: Business as usual can be better than energy saving at nearly any price.
Nicolas Sarkozy’s Green Revolution
31 OCT 2007 – Last week French president Nicolas Sarkozy in presence Global Warming prophet and Peace Nobel Prize winner Al Gore as well as EU Commission president José Manuel Barroso has solemnly proclaimed the conclusions of a four- month stakeholder forum on sustainable development called “Grenelle de l’Environnement” by announcing nothing less than a “Green Revolution” in France:
• Freezing the construction of new motorways and airports, extending instead the high speed TGV network;
• Installing a penalty system for cars depending on pollution levels;
• Increasing the energy efficiency of new and older buildings including a ban on incandescent light bulbs by 2010;
• Launching a 1 billion Euro plan for the development of low carbon energy over the next four years;
• Decreeing a plan for waste prevention by recycling that tolerates waste incineration only “as a last resort”;
• Halving the use of pesticides over the next ten years; and
• Proposing a moratorium on the approval of new Genetically Modified Organisms.
Sarkozy also repeated his call for an EU tax on imports from countries that do not respect the Kyoto Protocol on CO2 cuts. But this proposal is not unanimously welcomed by the EU member states. Commission president Barroso suggested “to wait until after Bali” where representatives from 180 countries will discuss in December about the future of the Kyoto agreement. Nevertheless Sarkozy has proposed a complete reversal of the French tax system shifting its high tax burden away from labour to the use of energy and materials with the help of a carbon tax.
How to interpret this “ecological New Deal” proposal? Our friend Jacques Garello from the university of Aix en Provence has found a possible explanation: He suggested that Nicolas Sarkozy is playing the role of the US president and his vice-president at the same time, knowing that President Bill Clinton did not follow the advices of his vice-president Al Gore. President Sarkozy is trying to overcome France’s economic stagnation by weakening the unions and making the labour market more flexible while Vice-president Nicolas is talking about ecology. I hope Garello is right.
No Economies of Scale with Bigger Windmills
23 OCT 2007 – The projected installation of at least 5.000 big offshore windmills in the German part of the North Sea is meeting some reticence now. Thomas Heinzow, a PhD student at the Research unit Sustainability and Global Change in the Departments of Geosciences and Economics of the Hamburg University, can easily explain the reasons of the investors’ hesitation. Building a generation capacity of one single kilowatt (kW) of electricity by offshore windmills requires an investment of 6.600 euros. The German government has projected a total capacity of 25.000 Megawatts (MW) in the North Sea. But the irregularity of the wind will only permit a mean electricity generation of 9.400 MW. The annual maintenance costs of the windmills are estimated to reach 6 to 9% of the total investment sum. Over and above there are no economies of scale expected: The windmill’s mass is more than cubing with its rotor’s radius. And construction materials, especially steel, are getting more and more expansive. Heinzow has calculated that instead of saving CO2, the projected wind parks in the North Sea would lead to an additional CO2 emission of 30 million tons annually.
This shows, I think, that the often quoted “Stern Review” on the Economics of Climate Change asserting that “climate protection” investments are highly profitable is wrong and that US economist William D. Nordhaus, affirming that the costs of Kyoto style climate policy would largely exceede the possible gains, is probably right.
Nine Inaccuracies in Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth
October 2007: In order for the film to be shown, the Government must first amend their Guidance Notes to Teachers to make clear that 1.) The Film is a political work and promotes only one side of the argument. 2.) If teachers present the Film without making this plain they may be in breach of section 406 of the Education Act 1996 and guilty of political indoctrination. 3.) Nine inaccuracies have to be specifically drawn to the attention of school children.
The inaccuracies are:
• The film claims that melting snows on Mount Kilimanjaro evidence global warming. The Government’s expert was forced to concede that this is not correct.
• The film suggests that evidence from ice cores proves that rising CO2 causes temperature increases over 650,000 years. The Court found that the film was misleading: over that period the rises in CO2 lagged behind the temperature rises by 800-2000 years.
• The film uses emotive images of Hurricane Katrina and suggests that this has been caused by global warming. The Government’s expert had to accept that it was “not possible” to attribute one-off events to global warming.
• The film shows the drying up of Lake Chad and claims that this was caused by global warming. The Government’s expert had to accept that this was not the case.
• The film claims that a study showed that polar bears had drowned due to disappearing arctic ice. It turned out that Mr Gore had misread the study: in fact four polar bears drowned and this was because of a particularly violent storm.
• The film threatens that global warming could stop the Gulf Stream throwing Europe into an ice age: the Claimant’s evidence was that this was a scientific impossibility.
• The film blames global warming for species losses including coral reef bleaching. The Government could not find any evidence to support this claim.
• The film suggests that sea levels could rise by 7m causing the displacement of millions of people. In fact the evidence is that sea levels are expected to rise by about 40cm over the next hundred years and that there is no such threat of massive migration.
• The film claims that rising sea levels has caused the evacuation of certain Pacific islands to New Zealand. The Government are unable to substantiate this and the Court observed that this appears to be a false claim.
Here is the official link to the Full Judgement of Mr. Justice Burton.
Germany’s „Renewables“ Subsidies Under Question
17 OCT 2007 – As reported by the Financial Times Deutschland and the EU Observer, Germany’s environment minister Sigmar Gabriel showed alarmed at a recent expert conference on renewable energy quotas in Amsterdam. The EU Commission is preparing a trading system for Green electricity certificates based on a system of pre-set quotas for all member states (including the new EU members in Eastern Europe) in order to ensure that, by 2020, 20 percent of their energy supplies come from “renewable” sources. This ambitious goal was established earlier this year.
But now Berlin fears that the quota system proposed by the Commission will undermine the existing German subsidy system which guaranties fixed prices for all electricity fed into the grid by windmills, solar panels and other more or less “sustainable” devices. Like the price guarantee for agro products within the EU’s CAP, this has led in Germany to a boom in the “renewables” sector – and to sensibly higher power bills for consumers.
Yet the German environment ministry has calculated that with the Commission’s quota system Germany’s renewable energy costs will even grow faster. The ministry is expecting that the EU’s system would cost the German government additional four billion euros in 2020. This would entail a loss in “public acceptance” of the system. Unfortunately there seems nobody left who is questioning the rationale of the EU’s „Renewable Energy Road Map (RERM)“ adopted in June under the German presidency.
Car Emissions: Does Life Cycle Analysis Still Matter?
11 Oct. 2007 – It is supposed that man by his nature is a nomad. That is why Henry Ford’s revolutionary achievement to open the way for motorcar mass production was welcomed all over the world as an important step to man’s liberation. High mobility is also required for economic growth. Thus with the development of the EU’s internal market since 1990 the number of cars on Europe’s roads has grown by more than 40 percent. There are over 216 million cars on the EU’s roads now. Yet older people know very well that, in spite of this boom, air pollution caused by combustion engines has sensibly diminished over the last decennials – due principally to the mandatory installation of catalytic exhaust converters. For every day’s life, congestion in urban areas is posing much more difficulties – a problem that could eventually be addressed by road pricing.
Believing that carbon dioxide, which is not eliminated by catalysts, is causing global warming, the European Parliament has identified a much more serious obstacle to the further expansion of car traffic. On 9 September MEPs on the Environment Committee backed the proposal of the British “liberal” MEP Chris Davis to introduce by 2012 a binding limit of 120 grams of CO2 per kilometre instead of 130 g/km proposed by the EU Commission and 140 g/km voluntarily committed by the European car makers. The full EP will debate Davis’ proposal in November.
A recent debate on the web shows that there are many people who see here principally a conflict between the German-dominated car industry and environment concerns. There is much less comprehension for customer concerns. Why could we observe at the last Frankfurt motor show in September much bigger crowds around SUVs and Minivans than around tiny “green” cars? Certainly not all customers are reasonable. But I’m convinced that on a free market there is place for all sorts of people – except criminals. And I’m sure that a comparative state of the art life cycle analysis, that do not focus unilaterally on CO2 emissions, but takes in account the total use of materials, would show that a long living Minivan capable to transport whole families has a smaller “ecological rucksack” than a politically correct Hybrid car with two engines.
How Kyoto is Dividing Industry
05 Oct. 2007 – It is easy to explain why most politicians and civil servants prefer the Kyoto approach in climate policy to alternatives like a carbon tax. Especially the Kyoto Protocol’s Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) which allows selling emission reductions in poor countries is creating winners on one side and losers on the other side. A recent example shows how CDM can make once reluctant industries support the Kyoto approach.
Three years ago French chemicals company Rhodia faced financial difficulties. Since then its situation has astonishingly improved. One reason for this turn is that the company owns two CDM registered plants producing adipic acid, a chemical required for making nylon: one in South Korea and another in Brazil. These plants offer the possibility to earn huge carbon credits with very small investments. The two plants emit nitrous oxide (N2O), a gas with a global warming potential estimated more than 300 times higher than that of CO2. According to Philippe Rodier, President of Rhodia Energy Services, it is possible to clean up the two plants by investing only 60 eurocents for the equivalent of one tonne CO2. Thus the Rhodia plant in Onsan, South Korea, has received nearly 10 million CERs (Certified Emission Reductions), the highest number of United Nations carbon credits to date (). Rhodia has sold all CERs corresponding to the second half of 2007 for an average price of 14,40 euros. Philippe Rodier is expecting that with a total cost of about 9 million euros for 15 million CERs it would be possible to create revenue of 220 million euros.
A carbon tax of only 2 dollars per tonne CO2 that the Danish sceptical environmentalist Bjorn Lomborg in his new book “Cool it” estimates sufficient for coping with climate change would certainly be more efficient than CRM. But I suppose that it would be classified “too” transparent by the UN bureaucracy and would not permit to divide industry.
Will the EU Dismantle E.d.F. and E.ON ?
27 Sept. 2007 – On 19 September Commission President José Manuel Barroso announced long awaited measures destined to ensure „the effective separation between the operation of electricity and gas transmission networks from supply and generation activities.“ To achieve this, the Commission is favouring the option of unbundling the ownership of gas pipelines and electricity power grids from the ownership of energy supply facilities. Thus big energy utilities like state owned French E.d.F. or the private German electricity and gas conglomerate E.ON would be obliged to sell part of their assets.
The alternative option, proposed essentially by France and Germany followed by seven other member states who fear dismantling of their “national champions”, is the intervention of a fully „independent system operator” (ISO) controlling the management of the gas pipelines and power grids that would be designated by national governments. This option appears as more bureaucratic for investment plans designed by national regulators would need approval of the EU Commission. Indeed one of the central concerns of the Commission is the existing lack of coherence in the powers and remits of national energy regulators leading to a “regulatory gap for cross border transaction in gas and electricity”. Another issue is increasing market transparency in order to obtain “fair energy prices” and to “stimulate energy efficiency and investments”.
Why does the EU Commission “forget” to point out, that high energy prices and supply insecurity actually are less due to a lack of transparency but rather to high taxes and the influence of “Green” ideology? In Germany end consumers (believing to contribute in this way to “save the climate”) already pay 40 per cent of their power bill to the state – with growing tendency.
There are still some reasonable people at OECD
19 Sept 2007 – EU’s strategy to impose a 10 per cent quota for plant derived hydrocarbons in transport fuels by 2020 is severely criticised by OECD experts. “Is the cure worse than the disease?”, Richard Doornbosch and Ronald Steenblik ask in a report, which was presented last week at the OECD’s Round table on Sustainable Development in Paris. For even in the best-case scenario analysed by the authors biofuels would only be able, by 2050 (!), to reduce EU’s energy-related CO2 emissions by 3 %. Saving one tonne of CO2 in this way would cost the EU’s taxpayers about US $ 5,000, the OECD experts estimate. The report warns that subsidies and tariff-protection measures accorded in the EU to biofuel producers will incite land owners to divert more and more land from food and feed production to the growth of fuel biomass, and thus make food prices take off.
No problem for German chancellor Angela Merkel. On the sidelines of an international environment conference under the auspices of the “Gleneagles Dialogue”, a post Kyoto debate on climate protection, which took place also last week in Berlin, Merkel said off the record that European consumers have to accept a 40 per cent rise of food prices in order to “save the climate.” At this conference destined to prepare the next world climate conference, which will take place in December in Bali, Angela Merkel by the way advanced the idea that a post Kyoto agreement should be based on a single world wide per-capita CO2 emission quota – a proposal that would lead mankind to a sort of carbon communism (see my blog from 6 December 2004 accompanied by a bloody revolution.
Fortunately this irrationalism is not (yet) followed by the OECD. The report on biofuels quoted above concludes: „Current biofuel support policies place a significant bet on a single technology despite the existence of a wide variety of different fuels and power trains that have been posited as options for the future. National governments should cease to create new mandates for biofuels and investigate ways to phase them out, preferably by replacing them with technology-neutral policies such as a carbon tax. Such policies will more effectively stimulate regulatory and market incentives for efficient technologies.“ Even if I’m not in favor of new taxes, I’m thinking nevertheless that this approach could be considered as the lesser evil to Angela Merkel’s misanthropic strategy.
Sarkozy Challenges EU’s Energy Policy
11 Sep 2007 – With the politically brokered merger between the state owned gas utility Gaz de France (GdF) and the energy branch of the private company Suez – thus creating a “national champion” in which the French state will retain control thanks to a blockade share of 35,6 % – French president Nicolas Sarkozy is challenging the EU’s competition policy in the energy sector. French finance ministry says that the new entity will support the EU’s concerns about ensuring the security of its energy supplies, by reinforcing France’s position as a major player on European and global energy markets and reducing the Europe’s dependence on Russian gas. But foreign observers (see for example the German business newspaper “Frankfurter Allgemeine” on 7 September (subscription required} call the deal „protectionist“ as it was originally conceived to fend off a hostile bid for Suez from Italy’s Enel. The merger is indeed contradicting the Commission’s aim of liberalising the EU’s energy market by breaking the domination of Europe’s natural gas market by a very small number of large companies. It can be noticed in particular that the new French energy giant is well designed to meet the size of the German utility E.ON. The politically driven merger between GdF and Suez is hiding another risk: The Belgian power provider Electrabel owned by Suez would come under French state control and would thus become subject to political troubles. I would conclude from this that the issue of Europe’s energy security doesn’t call for more but for less political intervention.
Will Energy Consumption Become a Luxury Again?
5 SEP 2007 – While reading and analyzing an energy scenario of the year 2055 focussed on “climate protection” I found on the web this Earthrace sponsorship video which (involuntarily) illustrates well what the author of the scenario is expecting to be inevitable for the decennials to come: By reducing net CO2 emissions to zero (as recommended by the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) energy will become so expansive that any form of far reaching mass tourism would disappear. Only very rich businessmen and playboys would still be able to afford travelling by rare hydrogen driven hypersonic planes, taxi cabs or boats. But I don’t think that such a dream will become true for I’m expecting that poor people will get in uproar when they learn that CO2 doesn’t heat up the atmosphere and will insist on the continuing use of relatively cheap coal and oil supplies (which would still be available in 2055).
In my opinion the 2055 scenario quoted above is demonstrating why energy policy ought to be completely separated from the debate about the possible causes of climate change – a dispute that is still far away from being settled.
Biofuels Worse than a Zero-Sum Game
22 AUG 2007 – Regular readers of my blogs know already that producing “green” fuels on a large scale is not an ecologically sustainable process for it requires much land and energy. Recently British researchers calculated even that chopping down forests in order to make room for fuel crops such as maize, sugarcane or colza is worse than a zero-sums game. It would take between 50 and 100 years to compensate the carbon emissions caused by forest clearing when the then obtained biofuels are burned instead of gasoline. Renton Righelato of the World Land Trust and Dominick Spracklen of the University of Leeds conclude that “policy makers may be better advised in the short term to focus on increasing the efficiency of fossil fuel use, to conserve existing forests and savannahs, and to restore natural forest and grassland habitats on cropland that is not needed for food.” In short: burning oil and planting trees is better than burning biofuel.
This is another strong argument against the EU’s “Renewable Energy Road Map (RERM)” adopted in June under the German presidency. Our colleague Dan Lewis has already denounced the RERM as “a typical exercise in EU cost-insensitive futility.” Now we know that this politically correct, but unworkable target system is also ecologically dangerous.
What Are „Renewables“ Good For?
11 AUG 2007 – Some weeks ago Jeroen van der Veer, the CEO of Royal Dutch Shell, called in the London Times for a „reality check“ concerning the capacity of „green“ energies to replace fossil fuels and nuclear power. Instead of a great conversion to wind and solar power, Mr. van der Veer predicts, the world will be forced into greater use of coal when renewable resources cannot fill the gap. This warning coincides with a critique of the European energy policy by Rex Tillerson, the CEO of ExxonMobil, in a speech at the Royal Institute for International Affairs in London. Tillerson said that world energy demand will rise by 45 per cent by 2030, and fossil fuels – oil, natural gas and coal – were the only energy sources of sufficient size and affordability to meet these needs. He showed much skepticism about governments‘ drive to increase use of biofuels, for this would endanger food production and deteriorate the environment without substantially contributing to the EU’s or the US’s energy security.
Tillerson recently was seconded by Jesse Ausubel, a well known „green“ thinker at Rockefeller University. Aside from land misuse, Ausubel also raises the other undesirable consequences of „renewables“: wind power produces low-frequency noise and thumps, blights landscapes, interferes with TV reception, and chops birds and bats; dams kill rivers; and solar power would require that large areas of land be essentially „painted black“ with photovoltaic cells.
Yet did he not know what an ancient German Green minister once admitted? „Windmills are our cathedrals,“ Bärbel Höhn declared some years ago in the regional Parliament of Rhenania-Westphalia. That is why it doesn’t matter if wind power, crops for biofuels or other „renewables“ contribute much to Europe’s energy security or not. They have always been primordially a demonstration of ideological influence and political power.
Germany’s energy policy is leading to nowhere
12 JUL 2007 “We’re on the right track,“ German chancellor Angela Merkel affirmed after his government’s third high level meeting with industry representatives on 3 July. “The government made it clear to industry that there will be no changes to the coalition agreement (on phasing out nuclear power by 2020 and reducing carbon emissions by 40 percent at the same time),“ she said. But the CEOs of Germany’s two leading electricity utilities E.ON and RWE stated that the meeting called “energy summit” had not fulfilled their hopes for a coherent energy plan that takes in account not only environment issues but also supply security and competition problems.
Merkel promised to present the missing energy plan in autumn. This plan would be based on the assumption that Germany’s CO2 reduction goal could be met by increasing the share of renewable power to nearly 30 percent and by an annual energy efficiency gain of 3 percent. Actually energy productivity in Germany is growing by less than one percent. And this is already one of the best performances in the EU. Chemical giant BASF’s CEO Jürgen Hambrecht warned in an interview published by DER SPIEGEL that in Germany „an energy policy worth its salt doesn’t exist. Where do we stand on nuclear power? Will coal have a future in Germany? These are questions we must urgently discuss. Instead, politicians are constantly setting new, unrealistic goals…Energy productivity must indeed be increased, but three percent is a completely unrealistic target…We are one of the few Western economies that still has a large, well-functioning system of industrial production. If politicians no longer want energy-intensive companies in Germany they should be honest about it.” German industrials are hoping now that the nuclear ban will be raised after the next federal elections. But Merkel’s Christian Democrats do not rule out that they will then form a government coalition with the Greens…
Germany Goes Ahead With Carbon Rationing
26 JUN 2007: On Friday 22 June the German Parliament approved the new National Allocation Plan (NAP II) for the second phase of the European
Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS). Only MPs representing regions with important brown coal mines voted against the government’s NAP II proposal. Between 2008 and 2012 German industry – according to the EU’s burden sharing agreement – is allowed to emit 453 million tonnes of CO2 annually. Till now the government handed out the corresponding CO2 certificates for free. Next year companies will need to buy nearly one tenth of Germany’s CO2 quota. German environment minister Sigmar Gabriel recently even claimed that in the future all CO2 permits should be auctioned. The number of certificates should be significantly reduced by 2013 in order to achieve the EU’s emission reduction goal of 20 percent by 2020.
This would certainly endanger the competitiveness of Germany’s numerous new brown coal plants destined to replace nuclear plants. The German business newspaper “Frankfurter Allgemeine” on Saturday estimated that lignite would loss its advantages at a certificate price of € 35/tonne CO2. The actual CO2 price for the second trading period of the ETS is already about € 21/t at the European Energy Exchange EEX in Leipzig. Germans will have to pay for their government’s attempt to save the planet in a way that will not be followed by the major competitors of Germany’s industry.
What’s really at risk
19 JUN 2007: There are many politicians in the EU who are not willing to accept the outcome of the recent G-8 summit (see my previous posting) and continue to propagate the EU’s carbon rationing system as worldwide solution to global warming. That is why last week Vaclav Klaus, the President of the Czech Republic, warned in a commentary published by Financial Times:
„As someone who lived under communism for most of his life, I feel obliged to say that I see the biggest threat to freedom, democracy, the market economy and prosperity now in ambitious environmentalism, not in communism. This ideology wants to replace the free and spontaneous evolution of mankind by a sort of central (now global) planning.” The slight temperature changes recorded in the past century do not demand far reaching restrictions in order to save the earth’s climate, Klaus underlines. There is no justification for the suppression of freedom and democracy.
This is an opportunity to make a little self publicity. In my recently published book (in German) I call the mentality of carbon rationing zealots “Eco-Nihilism” (available at: Amazon.de or: Buchausgabe.de. According to the definition given by the French philosopher Albert Camus in 1951, Nihilists don’t believe in nothing, but do not believe in what is. They are tending to sacrifice human life (and carbon dioxide, the basis of all life) in the name of something considered as “higher”. Our principal challenge, as I see it, is to find out ways to fight nihilism without becoming nihilist oneself.
George Bush’s Diplomatic Masterpiece
12 JUN 2007: Analysing the G-8 summit declaration of 7 June not only the Wall Street Journal but also many other newspapers around the world were more or less unanimous: This was a great victory for George Bush’s diplomatic initiative destined to surmount the impasse of the unilateral Kyoto type climate policy by a new comprehensive international framework favouring new energy technologies instead of carbon rationing but also recognising that fossil fuels will remain the world’s dominant source of energy in the 25 years to come (see my last week’s posting). Yet I suppose that many Europeans don’t even understand why Bush’s diplomacy was much smarter than Angela Merkel’s and José Manuel Barroso’s Kyoto based approach. Nevertheless it is evident that the EU’s strategy to curb greenhouse gas emissions has failed for several reasons. One is that it doesn’t take in account the problems of fast growing emerging economies like China and India. Another is the minor role that the EU leaders assign to the market.
“In Kyoto-world, governments exist to create draconian rules, even if those dictates are disguised by „market“ mechanisms such as cap-and-trade. President Bush’s approach is opposite: Allow economies to grow, along the way inspiring new technologies and new forms of energy that lower C02 emissions. Implicit is that C02-control technologies should focus on energy sources we use today, including fossil fuels. In Bush-world, the government is there to incentivize industry, coordinate with it, and set broad goals,”
Wall Street Journal’s columnist Kimberley A. Strassel resumed.
That is why many of the EU environment ministers who gathered on 11 June with colleagues from poorer countries in Stockholm in order to evaluate the outcomes of the G-8 summit seem not unhappy with the recent evolution. Our friend Benny Peiser in National Post even asserts: “By agreeing to the G8 ‘compromise’, informed as it is by the new U.S. and Japanese climate plans, the EU has effectively given upon its traditional support for a unilateral, Kyoto-style treaty that excludes the developing world.” I do not exclude that he is right.
Energy Policy at the Crossroads
4 June 2007: Since US President George Bush surprised the world by presenting, on 31 May, a new International Climate Change Framework proposal that would enter in force after the expiration of the Kyoto Protocol in 2012, the character of the G-8 meeting at the Baltic Sea has profoundly changed. While European leaders, except Tony Blair, in the first time dismissed Bush’s proposals as a diversion tactic, the US initiative was welcomed in nearly all other parts of the world. Now Angela Merkel is forced to give in. The EU approach in climate policy based on carbon rationing and emissions trading is no longer considered as principal subject of the international debate.
Bush’s strategic approach is based on the principle that climate change must be addressed by fostering both energy security and economic security by promoting clean energy technologies and encouraging investments in developing countries by promoting low-cost capital sources. That is why Bush is rejecting firm targets for cutting carbon dioxide emissions, but calls on countries to set midterm goals that reflect their specific mix of energy sources and expected needs in the years to come. The new framework thus would permit fast developing countries like China and India to join international efforts to cope with climate change without endangering their economic growth.
In my opinion the process of climate change cannot be resumed by the notion of global warming. Mean temperatures are not good indicators for what is really going on in the atmosphere for temperature is not rising everywhere on the globe. Actually the Southern hemisphere is experiencing the coolest winter since very long time and air and cloud circulation patterns on the Northern hemisphere suggest that a cooling process is on the way there also (see my posting of 4 September 2006). A sustainable energy policy should take in account this uncertainty by favouring “No regret” solutions: i.e. technologies that would permit us to better cope with both warming and cooling. Improving energy efficiency will always be a good thing as long as it is profitable.
G-8: Innovation vs. Carbon Rationning
29 May 2007: On 28 and 29 May the German G-8 presidency was hosting the Asia-Europe-meeting (ASEM) of 46 Foreign Ministers in Hamburg. This was perhaps Angela Merkel’s last attempt to make Japan, China and India join the EU position, which consists in (allegedly) combating global warming by carbon rationing and CO2 emissions trading and in refusing the US strategy of reducing the carbon intensity of the economy by encouraging technological innovation without precise CO2 targets. The US approach has already been adopted within the Asia-Pacific Partnership on Clean Development and Climate, which includes China, India, Japan, South Korea, and Australia.
US President George Bush has just proudly announced, last week, that his policy is well working. The carbon intensity of the US economy decreased by 4.5 percent from 2005 to 2006 – the largest annual improvement since 1990 – “putting us well ahead of what is needed annually to meet my greenhouse gas intensity reduction goal of 18 percent by 2012,” Bush stated. “We are effectively confronting the important challenge of global climate change through regulations, public-private partnerships, incentives, an