Week in review – energy and policy edition

by Judith Curry

A few things that caught my eye this past week.

Politics and international commitments

Key legal issues for Paris climate talks [link]

In depth analysis of China INDC [link]

India won’t peak emissions in climate pledge – [link]

Historic Climate Court Decision in the Netherlands [link]

MP David Davies asks some awkward questions [link]

Half of Europe’s electricity set to be from #renewables by 2030 [link]

Republican Governors Signal Their Intent to Thwart Obama’s Climate Rules [link]  …

Historic Climate Court Decision in the Netherlands [link]

Energy economics and finance

Analysis: Existing nuclear should be taxed, new nuclear subsidized [link]  …

Germany’s Green Energy Transition May Be Running Out Of Money, Study Warns [link]

#EPA report puts hefty tag on #climatechange inaction:  [link]

Do forced choices promote green energy? Some surprising results, with policy implications.[link]

Report: much-needed new measure of the leveled cost of electricity from @IERenergy. [link]  …

China’s Asia International Infrastructure Bank  has been launched [link]

Energy technologies and renewables

Official statistics may underestimate the amount of solar power in the US by around 50%: [link]  …

World’s biggest solar energy plant went online last week [link]

The price of energy storage is falling rapidly [link]

Smarter Grid Technologies Make for Smart Cities [link]

Impact of energy prices and cellulosic biomass supply on agriculture, energy and the environment:  [link]

Solar power needs to get cheaper. Are perovskites the answer? [link]

Hawaii pushes solar power but sudden swings in output pose unique challenges.[link]

A new analysis of U.S. counties shows where electric vehicles cause more pollution than gas cars. [link]

Why the Dutch oppose windmills: Dutch Quixote [link]

Article on refrigerated trucking, its cost to the environment and how new clean tech can help [link]  …

Policy analyses

A hard deadline:  We must stop building new carbon infrastructure by 2018 [link]

Robert Stavins:  Assessing the energy paradox [link]


188 responses to “Week in review – energy and policy edition

  1. The ‘hard deadline’ (Leahy) pice is pretty awful — no homework at all by the author. Then I looked at his tiny bio. Why did I expect more?

    • Another tipping point 2018

      We must stop building cars, factories, hospitals, homes, power plants etc except to replace existing. By 2018 nothing new should be built!

      Well we’re suppose to have a stock market crash and a big depression very soon I wonder if that will help.

      The guy he was talking to on the phone whose kids were getting swimming lessons that ended and he had to go. The author felt sorry for those kids headed into doomsday.

      So we’ve known about this for a long time why does that guy even have kids? What’s he doing taking them to swimming lessons I’m sure that pool is an enviormental disaster? And why are they talking on the phone anyway such energy waste to go along with his hubris. Why is he writing articles he should go into the wilderness and learn to live off the land.

  2. nabilswedan

    Climate Etc. early topics were generally scientific in nature, and I learned a lot from them. I write novel articles about the earth and some have been accepted and will be published soon. The difficulty in novel writing is lack of references, reviewers, co-authors, or journals that would be willing to navigate new waters with confidence and no risk. Climate Etc. is a blog where I could raise a subject that I am not sure of and very soon a competent reader comes along from far away and elaborates. At the conclusion of a discussion, a great deal of knowledge was accumulated. Example is the discussion of Steve McGee in 2013 “Is the Earth energy in deficit?” A great post, and I am so dismayed that this discussion has not been published in a scientific journal yet. Nevertheless and because of its importance, I cited this unpublished work in my recent paper Anthropogenic and Natural Forcings as Functions of Emission Time, Development in Earth Science (DES) Volume 3, 2015, http://www.seipub.org/des doi: 10.14355/des.2015.03.001 1.

    My son is a bright research professor, competent enough for climate and earth related studies. I have been trying to get him into the earth science. He does not want to because of the risk associated with the polarized climate debate. I am positive that there are more examples like him. We do not have a climate science; the greenhouse gas effect is a questionable hypothesis and its related radiative forcing approach violates the law of thermodynamics. In short it cannot get any worst. The question that I have is where does the younger generation go for correct understanding of the climate so that they can address a major issue of the present and future? I wish to see Climate Etc. remains the way I felt it was meant for-scientific discussions and knowledge. There will definitely be a need for these discussions for long time to come, and I hope that Climate Etc. be there in the forefront.

    • > Climate Etc. early topics were generally scientific in nature

      See for yourself:


      • The distribution of topics varies. I originally intended to do a SOD style blog about climate dynamics; but the denizens got hung up on the nature of the greenhouse effect. The uncertainty series led me into philosophy of science and the ancillary issues of the social psychology of science and ethics. At this point, its about what I feel like writing about, but I try to mix it up. ANd I now have a bigger stable of guest posters than I did in the beginning, with most writing on non-science topics.

      • Judith
        Did you see the link from Eli concerning Tamino?


      • Peter Lang


        >> “Climate Etc. early topics were generally scientific in nature”

        The problem was that people like you weren’t interested in talking about science. You wanted to use science to advocate for ‘the cause’ And for policy. You want to argue that the science implied catastrophic climate change and therefore we must implement catastrophic policies to prevent catastrophe.

        Now that there are more posts that are policy policy relevant, and these are making it clear that the policies you’ve advocated are far worse than the claimed problem, you want to stop the debate about policy. Typical of the Left!

      • tony – could you supply the link?

      • curryja | July 5, 2015 at 6:11 pm |

        I originally intended to do a SOD style blog about climate dynamics; but the denizens got hung up on the nature of the greenhouse effect. The uncertainty series led me into philosophy of science and the ancillary issues of the social psychology of science and ethics.

        Peter Lang | July 5, 2015 at 6:49 pm |

        The problem was that people like you weren’t interested in talking about science.

        You just can’t make this up.

  3. [blockquote]…Still, even in Los Angeles, where the environmental benefits of an EV relative to a gas car were highest, the calculations didn’t warrant the current federal subsidy of $7,500 per car.

    “So even in the most extreme areas, the existing subsidy—let alone the additional state incentives—are not justified by the environmental benefits to air pollution,” says Holland.

    Elsewhere around the country, EVs showed few if any benefits relative to gas cars… [/blockquote]

    See link: Where Electric Vehicles Actually Cause More Pollution Than Gas Cars

    • The prime driver for the incentive level was getting a value high enough to persuade people to buy the cars (and put up with their shortcomings). Only the naive (which might be a large part of the population) thought we were getting a good value for our money in terms of cost effective pollution mitigation. For some of the less naive it was/is a “Field of Dreams” thing – build it and they will come (with subsidies) and over time (hopefully) with volume sales the cost will improve (like with VCRs) and all the bugs and shortcoming will be worked out. Others in the non-naive crowd question some of those assumptions. Unfortunately the first group is driving policy. Some people taking the huge subsidies often (not always) feel smug and superior, while others doing the right thing are made to feel guilty. Such assumptions need more attention and need to battle the mass public perception that electric cars-good, gas cars-bad. Maybe this is a good start.

      • The more I think about it, the stranger it seems. The subsidies are needed because markets don’t work, but with the catalyst of the subsidies the market will become near magical.

      • So, you seem to be saying skeptic = non-naive?

      • jim2-i assume by sceptic, you mean climate sceptic. i don’t see that things are necessarily connected. I think people should look at the evidence for how different things might work and assess that individually, not based on how it dovetails with other things they might believe. The evidence for emissions from car types, how markets might work, how emissions impact the environment, how far technology can go in any give area represent different fields of study and are worthy of appraisal on how they stand on their own merits.

        I think you can believe that we are at a tipping point for C02 emissions causing climate doom, but if the evidence says electric cars are not cost effective ways to address climate you should be able to accept it. Similarly if you believe CO2 is mostly harmless you should be able to accept evidence that would show electric cars to be economic if that were the case.

      • Or alternatively you could be skeptical of climate science but still bamboozled by the near omnipresent view in som places that electric cars are clearly cleaner and do no harm.

      • Or you can get drawn into a polarized debate and just echo whatever your “side” says and accuse others of doing the same for the other “side”.

      • The subsidies are needed because markets don’t work, but with the catalyst of the subsidies the market will become near magical.

        The market works just fine, and responds to subsidies pretty much as expected. Consider how the western US railroad system was constructed.

        My guess is that the “markets don’t work” meme is part of how the idea is rationalized to socialists and other opponents of “Capitalism”. Or perhaps a reaction to the essentially “magical” vision of markets promulgated by some “libertarian” anarcho-capitalists.

        But AFAIK the (relatively) free market in capital, combined with a bounded, somewhat regulated but pretty much “level playing field” free market in commerce/industry, evolved alongside the Western European nation state, and worked very well for them. Especially Britain.

      • Similarly if you believe CO2 is mostly harmless you should be able to accept evidence that would show electric cars to be economic if that were the case.

        One very big (and usually unnoticed) advantage of electric cars is that they can be used indoors..

        This could easily (IMO) have a bigger effect on the evolution of our society than their supposed lower carbon footprint.

      • I assert the following:
        America is the richest country in the world.
        America is the best country in the world.
        Rich people are superior*. Poor people don’t write laws, rich people do. American CEOs earned an average of $11.7 million in 2013, 331 times what average workers took home.
        *People who inherit vast fortunes are superior, but also lucky.

        There is a corollary to this axiom, 90% of us are inferior. Being smart is not sufficient to be rich or superior but it can improve your odds.

    • Curious George

      What’s wrong with subsidizing Elon Musk?

      • Why doesn’t the California legislature just buck up and pass the law they really want: diamond lanes reserved for Democrat voters.

  4. Pingback: Week in review – energy and policy edition | Enjeux énergies et environnement

  5. Germany, This just in (from my morning paper),

    The heads of the ruling coalition (Seehofer, Gabriel, Merkel) announced that they will provide the legal framework for compensating energy companies for maintaining natural gas power plants which are on standby. They plan to pass legislation this year.

    Translation: “Money shall flow.”

    This is the reaction to Eon’s threat to shut down Irshing and the realization that southern Germany will require new gas plants in the near future or the lights will go out.

    funny, the first sentence in the article reads “The German Energiewende is full of surprises.” Heh, They could have just asked PE.

  6. I see where the Guardian has published another triumphalist story on future (ie hasn’t-happened-yet) “renewables”, with huge banner pic of wind turbines and solar panels. (When they do “non-renewables” you get blood red and dirt brown pics of steam colourised to look like smoke.)

    I don’t mind. Just wondering why Big Smug didn’t include pics of hydro-dams. Seeing as how hydro is such a big slice of renewable output and actually doesn’t suck.

    They’re such dippy kids, the Guardian journalists. They’ve always got some verbal trick or intellectual stunt for the punters, those green scamps. May they never be forced to get real jobs!

    • By the by, some figures are just a bit hard to believe, so feel free to enlighten me. But here goes:

      In 2013, primary production of renewable energy for the EU in percentages: 5.5 solar, 10.5 wind, 3.1 geothermal, 16.6 hydro, and 64.2…

      You have to guess what the 64.2% of EU renewable energy came from. It also accounted for 7.7% out of the 11.8% “renewable” component of the EU’s gross inland energy consumption. Hint and warning: you won’t see it as a banner pic in the Guardian and you may fall down laughing, so watch the furniture.

      • Mike Flynn


        Just a wild guess (only joking, of course), but I’ll suggest that 64.2% of renewables comes from burning stuff made from CO2 and H2O via the miracle of photosynthesis, and possibly passed through an animals gut.

        Would I be close?

      • Very close. Of course, the processing and lugging of the 64.2% involves quite a lot of fossil fuels. (But so do wind turbines, what with STOR and the rest.)

      • That 64% , I suspect must be biomass.

        I have a little different numbers but it’s projection for 2014 and seems like a radical shift from 2013:

        Biomass 47%, Hydropower 17%, Wind 11%, Biofuels 9%, Solar 7%, Heat pumps 5%, Biogas 4%, Geothermal 1%


      • Eurostat slapped different things together as “biomass and waste” in 2013. Your 2014 breakup sounds nicer. It’s amazing how much stuff still gets burnt in the EU, for all the solar and wind schemes. (To add to accounted biomass, waste and biofuel, I’ve seen how much unaccounted wood gets burnt in rural areas, especially by energy beggars like Spain and Italy. They don’t miss a twig out in the boonies.)

        The US still has a huge biomass and waste contribution to renewable energy, but there wind, through sheer force of spending, incentive and subsidy, has boomed and overtaken biomass and waste in the last few years. Fortunately, hydro is still the USA’s biggest “renewable” by far. Long live regress!

      • This stupidity makes it much easier to understand how Easter Island happened.

      • I guess if anyone thought CO2 really was the big problem those nukes were built yesterday, right?

        One thing that gets me down: we fuss and fiddle over what gets burnt in a commercial/accounted context…then the South East Australian bush becomes an inferno as it does from time to time (think world’s biggest in 1851!) and all those fiddly little economies of carbon are pointless in a day.

        Of course, our green imposed carbon calculating industry is matched by green imposed fire policies which expose us and our wildlife to the biggest possible burns (which are thought to be ‘natural’).

        Big Green’s widely circulated theory is that burning biomass is just carbon on a loop, not a net addition. I’m sure pioneering carbon accounters from Enron and Lehman Bros will be able to handle the biomass books to perfection, once they’re back on the outside.

        Anyway, seems to make good sense to burn piggery methane, less sense to burn good mulch. As for growing, chipping, processing, lugging, shipping and nitrogenating American forests for combustion in the UK…

      • One biomass measure from not long ago, which was more for tax dodge, but may well have qualified for “renewability”. When the North Sea was being disastrously overfished for sand eels, one bright Danish enterprise had the idea of selling fish oil to power stations. Unlike fuel oil, it wasn’t taxed! Scandinavians are great at making themselves poster boys for Big Green, but I often wonder how. In fact, I always wonder how.

        The worst of sand eel exploitation has stopped, though new EU directives still allow a heavy take. I suppose so much riverine fish has been toxifying the feed industry they need a cleaner source. Let’s just hope the renewable oil from sand eels is in disgusting renewable margarine and not helping to fire up disgusting renewable wood pellets at Drax.

  7. David Wojick

    EPA lives in climate model fantasyland. Poor policy personified. In this case they project a CO2 equivalent concentration of over 1700 ppm by 2100.

  8. We must stop building new carbon infrastructure by 2018

    The concept of ‘carbon committment’ is plain nonsense.

    The utilization rate of various ‘carbon’ generating technologies can and does change over the lifetime of the facility.

    As an example…in the US and Japan we have plenty of Oil fired electric plants that were originally intended for baseload and intermediate load…that now run just a few hours a year as seasonal extreme weather peakers. Utilization has gone from 50 or 60% when new to a fraction of a percent now.

    I always laugh at Chinese coal consumption projections 20 years form now.

    If Chinese per capita electriciy consumption comes anywhere near US/European levels China will require on the order of 1,000 GW of daily peakers and another 1,000 GW of seasonal peakers.

    Yes…every Chinese coal plant built today will be running in 50 years…the question if whether the utilization will be 80% or 0.8% and the answer really is based on how successful the Chinese will be in rolling out Gen IV nuclear.

    I don’t know the answer t that question and neither does anyone else.

    So all this ‘carbon commitment’ talk is based on nothing more then pure speculation.

    Peabody Coal is trading at $1,87..down from $72 in 2011. “real money” is betting that coal has a grim future.

    • David Wojick

      Coal looks grim in the US, bright where economies are growing, including China.

      • David Wojick

        They shoot horses to put them out of misery. Your “our misery” sounds like you are in misery. I am just saying, as they say.

    • Steven Mosher

      Coal needs to be put out of our misery.

      they shoot horses dont they?

      • Somebody needs to invest a lot of R&D on inexpensive undersea gas pipelines. Run them a kilometer under, at ambient pressure, the pipes and emergency shut-offs could probably be made very cheap, both to manufacture and deploy. With learning curve and economies of scale.

      • David Wojick

        This seems to have landed in the wrong place, so I am repeating it. They shoot horses to put them out of misery (I happen to have horses). Your “our misery” sounds like you are in misery. I am just saying, as they say.

        Same for climate debate misery, which you seem to suffer greatly from..

      • Steve Mosher

        “they shoot horses dont they?”

        “The techniques (horse whispering) vary in their precise tenets but generally share principles of developing a rapport with horses,[3] using communication techniques derived from observation of free-roaming horses,[4] and rejecting abusive training methods.” Wiki

        It seems to me that those who utter such a vigorous and anti-coal meme such as by yourself, may learn something from “horse whisperers”, particularly developing a rapport with others; i.e. willing to listen; observing natural behavior; and rejecting abusive coercion.

        Putting something out of its misery implies euthanasia, which has in the past, been considered one of consent, otherwise, it devolves to execution by the particular party in power.

    • Funny how the conversation has become “carbon” commitments. Connotation of dirty black stuff like coal and oil, when the AGW issue associated with burning fossil fuels to produce energy is CO2 a colorless odorless gas that is essential to life of this planet. The messaging gurus seem to have succeeded on this one.

      • FYI Mark, the fossil fuel energy pollution includes VOCs, NOx, SOx, PM2.5, PAH’s that are about 50% of the CO2 forcing according to IPCC in addition to causing actual health hazards right now. Bridging to natural gas therefore makes sense as well as providing incentives for the development of non-dirty energy. Water is also essential to life, but for every nutrient, there is a point in which it’s concentration becomes harmful or toxic. Fortunately, humanity is evolving away from environmental myopia. It’s a messy process, but going in the right direction.

      • Horst, I came across this on PM2.5 earlier today. I thought you and some others might be interested.:


        Our air quality in the U.S. is so much better today than it was 40 years ago, that before implementing costly and intrusive new requirements, one has to seriously ask the question: How good is good enough?

  9. Oil finally made a fairly large move. It moved down.

    OIL 59.65
    BRENT 63.26
    NAT GAS 2.772
    RBOB GAS 2.0419

    OIL 55.52
    BRENT 60.32
    NAT GAS 2.77
    RBOB GAS 2.0015

    From the article:
    The EIA (U.S. Energy Information Administration) reported that oil stocks at Cushing, Oklahoma, rose by 123,000 bpd (barrels per day) to 56,368 barrels for the week ending June 26, 2015.





  10. David Wojick

    Sciencemag top editor says the time for debate has ended! Also, last I knew China was still building a lot of coal fired power plants. She thinks long term political pledges are real. What a joke.
    Science magazine used to be good at science.

    • post on this coming tomorrow.

      • David Wojick

        A perfect example of the damage advocacy does to scientific credibility.

      • I wonder where in the nine circles Dante would place all of us who are borrowing against this Earth in the name of economic growth, accumulating an environmental debt by burning fossil fuels, the consequences of which will be left for our children and grandchildren to bear?

        And would he place in the alternate region the people who are working to help pay it back?

    • The editor of Sciencemag is not rich so her opinion will have little value in shaping policy. Bill Gates is rich and has just committed 2 billion to renewable energy research. I think Bill Gates has influenced policy in the past (think HB1 worker visa quotas) so we will do what Bill Gates wants us to do.

      • David Wojick

        Research and policy are two very different things. Bill Gates can put two billion into perpetual motion for all I care. Google went down the renewable rabbit hole for a while, but I think they got out, or maybe not.

      • Welcome to the United Fascist States.

      • It is good to research lowering renewables cost to something competitive world wide. Lots of sunny solar potential in the poor third world w/o tranmission infrastructure and coal resources or infrastructure for central power plants. So it is good for rich countries and individuals to develop technology to help places that need energy, sewage and water. Bettter than the planned reparations to the autocrat governments in those places.


      • jim2 & David,
        Listen to the wisdom of the great philosopher Bruce Lee:
        “You must be shapeless, formless, like water. When you pour water in a cup, it becomes the cup. When you pour water in a bottle, it becomes the bottle. When you pour water in a teapot, it becomes the teapot. Water can drip and it can crash. Become like water my friend.”

        American translation: Go with the flow dude.

      • David Wojick

        Scott, if this research is a charitable effort then why not just build generating capacity for these poor folks? I did some research awhile back and it would cost very little to move the US coal fired power plants that EPA is closing to developing countries. Start with the cities, where millions can be served with no grid costs, just like we did here in the US.

      • So, you mean go with the flow like this? :

        Conventional wisdom among post war historians has been that – as Lord Dahrendorf, ex-warden of St Antony’s College, Oxford, says in his study Society and Democracy in Germany (1966) – “It is certainly true that most Germans ‘did not know’ about National Socialist crimes of violence; nothing precise, that is, because they did not ask any questions_.” A common explanation among influential modern German historians, including Hans-Ulrich Thamer in his study Wooing and Violence (1986) is that the Nazis “seduced” an unwilling or passive public.


      • No jim2. You are conflating political ideology with economic reality. Capitalism is the superior system. Capitalism produces very rich people therefor rich people are superior. Superior people become leaders. We are ruled by leaders. If you disagree try not paying your taxes.

    • China coal and CO2 peaked in 2013, and I don’t think they will ever use that much coal or emit that much co2 again.


      1. China working age population peaked around then and will fall for three decades working age are the ones with rising incomes and consumption
      2. China’s total population will be declining for decades.
      3. More and more of China’s population is old and a drag on the economy.
      4. Much of China’s recent growth was government induced overbuilding ( and over producing ) leading to a huge over-capacity. That production and the energy used to produce will be idle until the oversupplies ( and the debts ) are worked off.
      5. China is now experiencing a bear market, one that illiterate investors bought on margin to get into.
      6. China has aligned with Putin to buy gads of natural gas.

      That’s all why China’s energy and CO2 look like:

      And since China is the largest CO2 emitter, falls in China’s emissions mean global CO2 emissions may have peaked in 2013 also.

      How much of this will they speak of in Paris?

      • India is still increasing emissions…

        But the general theory that global emissions are going to be about 10 GT/Y for the foreseeable future is reasonable.

        A stable 10 GT/Y emissions profile would support a 460-480 PPM level almost forever if we had enough fuel.

        However a 460-480 PPM CO2 level from a stable 10 GT/Y of emissions takes CAGW off the table. Only CGAGW would continue to increase.

  11. The “ hard deadline: […] stop building new carbon infrastructure by 2018” link actually references an open-access paper: Commitment accounting of CO2 emission by Steven J Davis and Robert H Socolow (2014)Environ. Res. Lett. 9 084018 doi:10.1088/1748-9326/9/8/084018.

    The world not only continues to build new coal-fired power plants, but built more new coal plants in the past decade than in any previous decade. Worldwide, an average of 89 gigawatts per year (GW yr^–1) of new coal generating capacity was added between 2010 and 2012, 23 GW yr^–1 more than in the 2000–2009 time period and 56 GW yr^–1 more than in the 1990–1999 time period. Natural gas plants show a similar pattern. Assuming these plants operate for 40 years, the fossil-fuel burning plants built in 2012 will emit approximately 19 billion tons of CO2 (Gt CO2) over their lifetimes, versus 14 Gt CO2 actually emitted by all operating fossil fuel power plants in 2012. We find that total committed emissions related to the power sector are growing at a rate of about 4% per year, and reached 307 (with an estimated uncertainty of 192–439) Gt CO2 in 2012. These facts are not well known in the energy policy community, where annual emissions receive far more attention than future emissions related to new capital investments. This paper demonstrates the potential for ‘commitment accounting’ to inform public policy by quantifying future emissions implied by current investments.

    The numbers could be looked at, but objections that these plants may not be used for most of their lives are probably unfounded. Investments must be recouped.

    But for policy planners, this does offer a good reason for greater support for the power→fuel option: intermittent power from ever-cheaper solar PV could be converted to methane or hydrocarbon fuels, which would then be burned in these plants. As the price of PV continues to decline exponentially, and new and synergistic technology, learning curve, and economies of scale have a similar effect on support structures, the energy efficiencies needed to achieve economic efficiency will become steadily lower.

    The conversions would require “carbon-neutral” CO2, preferably extracted from ambient sources such as the ocean surface. Such CO2 would also be useful in “carbon-neutral” extraction of methane from sea-floor methane hydrate clathrate (where the methane is replaced by an equal or greater amount of CO2).

    These points mean that a policy focus on conversion from coal to gas is highly warranted, since investments in the latter are likely to still be valuable using methane from such sources.

    They also indicate the need for a much stronger focus on ambient CO2 extraction technologies.

    • David Wojick

      Only if you believe that CO2 emissions are a problem. Many do not, including me. Green madness is bad policy.

      • CO2 emissions are a risk. Not just via climate, but ecologically. Perhaps more ecologically than climatically. Ocean acidification is only the easiest to understand and measure.

        Now, we don’t know the extent of the risk, we don’t even have any way to get a grip on the probabilities involved. And we do know that raising the price of energy (almost certainly) has a huge downside.

        So policy options that involve raising the cost/price of energy, or slowing the roll-out of a happier life-style to the “developing” world, are contra-indicated.

        But low-regrets policies are a different matter. Counting both the capital investment and long-term fuel prices, coal and CCGT are at rough parity. Pushing towards gas would probably provide few regrets overall. (And as for those heavily invested in coal, so what? Investment includes risk.)

        CO2 extraction is the best option for “dealing with” the fossil carbon problem. Not only does it offer the promise high likelihood of “carbon-neutral” energy within a few decades, but the development of a robust ambient CO2 extraction industry would free us from “urgent deadlines” for modifying current practice.

        The real impact of fossil fuel burning seems likely to be much later this century, and even if our societies “borrow” against the atmosphere/eco-system’s ability to absorb fossil carbon, that loan can be paid back with extraction and sequestration later this century.

        If necessary. That’s one of the biggest advantages of ambient CO2 extraction: it gives real science a chance to actually study the issues, without the “urgency”-driven pseudo-science called “post-normal science”.

        And any R&D, and most subsidy-driven early maturation of technology, is also likely to provide ancillary benefits in spin-off technology. Which would help to make investments in such programs “low-regrets”.

      • David Wojick

        AK, if you regard CO2 extraction as a no or low regrets policy then I think you do not grasp the concept. Also, if CO2 emissions are not a problem then neither are they a risk. That the greens claim they are a risk does not make them a risk. The greens have built their political powers on bogus claims of risk.

      • AK, if you regard CO2 extraction as a no or low regrets policy then I think you do not grasp the concept.

        I grasp it just fine thank you. What I don’t grasp is why you think it’s not. I suspect you’re raising a straw man.

        if CO2 emissions are not a problem then neither are they a risk.

        Doesn’t follow. Just as it doesn’t matter what you “believe”. There’s too much uncertainty around the whole fossil carbon thing to say for sure it isn’t a problem. Therefore, it is a risk.

        That the greens claim they are a risk does not make them a risk.

        That you assert, with no evidence, that they aren’t a problem doesn’t mean they’re not a risk.

        The greens have built their political powers on bogus claims of risk.

        No, the “greens have built their political powers on bogus claims ofurgency. Which can be completely dispelled by the development of a robust, mature, technology for extracting ambient CO2.

        Paid for by its contribution to: mining sea-floor methane hydrate, conversion of energy to methane/fuel, and provision of CO2 for agriculture and feedstocks for carbon fiber and plastic products.

        And if, when real science has investigated, it turns out to be needed to extract ambient CO2 for sequestration, it will be much cheaper then, with that robust, mature, technology for extracting ambient CO2.

        Thus, low-regrets either way.

    • Co2 emissions don’t have to be a problem to diversify and develop other energy sources including renewables. Put pressure of costs on coal plants which may make sense in the East and midWest close to sources and low transportation costs but solar potential in sunny areas in the far West could reduce competitive pressure on natural gas.

      Same for water sources. Develop desalination technology to more energy efficient membranes and reduce the pressure to build new dams and block more rivers from the sea. Dams and cotton farmers in the west vs fishermen and salmon. Counter productive government intervention to massively increase electricity costs actually degrade the environment by pushing water projects.

    • West Virginia Coal Association on Power→Methane

      Herein, we learn that yet another company is, in Germany, making a business out of capturing Carbon Dioxide, and then, using environmentally-derived energy to drive the process, converting that CO2 into the simple hydrocarbon, a substitute for natural gas, Methane.


      SolarFuel uses electric power to directly convert the energy-free raw materials CO2 and water into synthetic natural gas: In the first stage of electrolysis, water is separated into hydrogen and oxygen. In the second stage, hydrogen is directly converted into methane (CH4) with CO2. Here, the energy density increases by factor 3, and a marketable and manageable energy source is created which is of standard quality and which can be fed directly into the natural gas grid. The attainable level of efficiency is over 60 percent. [Bolding original]

      The basic feasibility of the method was successfully proven in a pilot plant on the kW scale. Without optimisation measures, an overall power-to-gas efficiency of 40 percent was proven even here. The surrounding air acts as the CO2 source. The plant was completed by the Centre for Solar Energy and Hydrogen Research Baden-Württemberg (Zentrum für Sonnenenergie- und Wasserstoff-Forschung Baden-Württemberg, ZSW.


      But, we want to point something out: They are, in Germany, using solar energy to capture Carbon Dioxide from the atmosphere; and, then, at an efficiency of something around 120 times that of natural photosynthesis, again using solar energy, converting that CO2, with Hydrogen from Water, into Methane.

      There are, no doubt, among our patriotic US Coal Country readers, some former US servicemen and servicewomen who did tours at one or the other of our military bases in cool, cloudy Germany.

      And, you, especially, will know, that, if they can, in Germany, use solar energy to successfully capture CO2 from the atmosphere and then convert that CO2 into Methane, then, we can danged-well do it here, in West Virginia and Pennsylvania, and in all the other states in US Coal Country where the revenue-scrounging specter of Cap and Trade CO2 taxes threaten the core of our income and our very way of life. [bolding mine.]


      Carbon Dioxide – – as it is emitted in only a small way, relative to natural and uncontrollable, non-taxable, sources of emission, such as volcanoes, from our economically essential use of Coal in the generation of abundant, reliable, and genuinely-affordable electric power – – is a valuable raw material resource.

      We can, as confirmed and detailed herein, reclaim Carbon Dioxide from whatever handy source, and, using only Water as an additional raw material, in processes driven entirely by freely-available, Carbon-free environmental energy, then convert that reclaimed Carbon Dioxide, as they are now in Germany, into a substitute natural gas we don’t have to drill and frack for:


      • AK, the German company is EtoGas. Their own paper from 2014 has an erroneous efficiency figure. Electrolysis is 75%, not their 80. They omit 95% catalysis. The true efficiency producing methane from intermittent renewables is about 50%, using their actual pilot line process numbers.
        Now, use that methane to produce electricity in a CCGT at 60% efficiency, and the round trip is only 30% and unviable. Covered this in the grid storage post. Second of two chemical storage examples. Simply not practical, as raises net electricity cost by ~3x.

      • @Rud

        Now, use that methane to produce electricity in a CCGT at 60% efficiency, and the round trip is only 30% and unviable.

        Well, for me the interesting thing about that link was the source. According to them, the pilot only got 40% efficiency.

        But see my remark in the top comment

        As the price of PV continues to decline exponentially, and new and synergistic technology, learning curve, and economies of scale have a similar effect on support structures, the energy efficiencies needed to achieve economic efficiency will become steadily lower.

        Obviously, we can endlessly debate the evolution of technology and its costs. But PV has been exponentially declining in cost (price at the factory gate) for decades, and there’s no good reason for assuming it will stop. In fact, given the various technologies that are working their way from the lab bench to production, I’d say it’s most likely to continue.

        Support structures are a different story, but IMO there’s a very good chance (much better than 50/50) that they will do likewise, responding to increased price pressure as they become a bigger piece of the pie.

        If PV and support structures are 1/10th their current price, I’d guess a 30% energy efficiency would be more than cost-effective. Remember, conversion to methane or fuel would solve most of the transportation and storage problems associated with the “distributed” nature of (utility) PV.

        Obviously depending on the issue of capitalizing the extra quantities for technology that mirrors solar’s intermittent nature. But IMO there are ways to minimize that as well, they just haven’t received as much focus, because the people doing the research mostly don’t understand the detailed economics.

    • Somehow, while Matt Ridley’s Fossil Fuels Will Save the World (Really) WSJ March 13, 2015 5:33 p.m. ET was linked in a couple posts at Climate Etc., it never came up for very detailed discussion. Here are the concluding paragraphs:

      Most climate scientists remain reluctant to abandon the models and take the view that the current “hiatus” has merely delayed rapid warming. A turning point to dangerously rapid warming could be around the corner, even though it should have shown up by now. So it would be wise to do something to cut our emissions, so long as that something does not hurt the poor and those struggling to reach a modern standard of living.

      We should encourage the switch from coal to gas in the generation of electricity, provide incentives for energy efficiency, get nuclear power back on track and keep developing solar power and electricity storage. We should also invest in research on ways to absorb carbon dioxide from the air, by fertilizing the ocean or fixing it through carbon capture and storage. Those measures all make sense. And there is every reason to promote open-ended research to find some unexpected new energy technology.

      The one thing that will not work is the one thing that the environmental movement insists upon: subsidizing wealthy crony capitalists to build low-density, low-output, capital-intensive, land-hungry renewable energy schemes, while telling the poor to give up the dream of getting richer through fossil fuels.

    • I’m not objecting that these platns won’t be used.

      We have plenty of 40+ year old electricity plants in the US that only run during ‘heat waves’.

      They ran all the time when new.

      Any report that extends current utilization rates into the future on timelines of 20+ years has no historical precedent, utilization rates change as plants age and newer technology comes online.

  12. From the article:

    How the next US nuclear accident could happen

    The United States loves to use statistical metrics and audit procedures to decide which teachers and principals at public schools should be fired or retained, which professors should be given the biggest raises, who qualifies for a mortgage and so on. But audit procedures can be gamed. We have recently learned that school teachers changed their pupils’ answers on standardized tests, that the mortgage industry enabled the falsification of applications, and that middle managers at the Veterans Administration faked information on veterans’ waiting time for treatment in order to have good-looking audits. Much beloved by graduates of our MBA programs, audits are too often Potemkin reviews cooked up to offer a false sense of security.

    This time the nuclear facility was broken into by highly principled peace activists intent on symbolically spilling their own blood to make a point. Next time the intruders may be more malevolent, intending to spill others’ blood. If there is a next time, be prepared for an inquiry that shows a misplaced faith in automated security technology, private contractors cutting corners to make a buck, and government managers astonished that their reviews didn’t catch the problem.


    • This sort of thing is one reason nuclear is a bigger risk than many pollyanas would have it. The same sort of thing happened with the US Space Program in the ’80’s, IIRC.

    • Well, IF this article is correct in the first place, any such risks can be mitigated. (And I have my doubts about this guy’s take on security at nuclear facilities.)

      The facts are still the facts. Even after the nuclear incidents, very few people have died due to nuclear power plants.

    • dougbadgero

      Nuclear plants in the U.S. Use armed guards.

  13. From the article:


    Mismatch of maturities is the bane of ‘green’ bonds in general and solar ABS notes in particular.
    Many ‘green’ bonds (energy efficiency) finance short-term operational savings with long-term money.
    Many ‘green’ bonds are long-term regressive for GHG-emissions.
    ESG/RI investors are being fleeced due to unclear objectives and lacking quantitative measurement of ‘green’.
    Property owners suffer from bad project selection, incentivized by government programs.

    The entire rooftop solar industry is based on a number of loosely related misconceptions in its sales paradigm, which lead to the dysfunctional selection of sub-optimal and outright inappropriate projects. The most abusive is the Third Party Owned (TPO) Distributed Generation [DG] segment. This flawed process inflicts identifiable and quantifiable economic damage on property owners, taxpayers, and utility ratepayers in some cases. These issues apply equally to all participants in the industry, the principal public companies being SolarCity (NASDAQ:SCTY), Vivint Solar (NYSE:VSLR), NRG Energy (NYSE:NRG), and RGS Energy (NASDAQ:RGSE). (Note: the scenarios here are reflective of some parts of the country, there are situations where there is more sun and homes are all electrical, where the decision is more straightforward, but the subsidy issue applies all the way around.)


  14. Report: much-needed new measure of the leveled cost of electricity from @IERenergy. [link] …

    This is an excellent report. It shows clearly where U.S. policy makers and regulators are driving us. Would like to hear from PE and/or Rud on this.

    “An unprecedented amount of generating capacity is set to close due to ongoing renewables policies, undervalued capacity markets, currently low natural gas prices, and additional environmental regulations. In the absence of even some of these factors, most existing power plants would remain operational, helping keep electricity costs low for many years or decades into the future.”

    In addition it shows that, in spite of policies and regulations that will drive up the cost of new “conventional” electricity generation by factors of 2-3, wind generated electricity will still be 50-100% more costly than other sources of electricity.

    In what alternative universe does this make sense? One inhabited by the Marcia McNutts of this planet I guess.

    • MS, just finished reviewing the IER LCOE paper. Our wind post was directionally similar. We corrected EIA for factors like lifetime and the hidden coal tax, rather than start from scratch. Similar ‘imposed’ wind cost based on the actual Ercot grid. Similar conclusions.
      Only difference would be that coal is closing because many of those plants are near end of life, and their inefficiency plus higher maintenance makes them uncompetitive with new gas fired CCGT. In south Florida, FPL tore down two 1960’s era resid fired stations producing about 4000MW, and on the same sites is installing 4500MW of CCGT fueled from a new nat gas pipeline extension. Even with depreciation, the electricity price will go down, not up.

      • Thanks Rud.

        It seems clear that, despite subsidies (for wind) and regulatory burdens on just about everything else, wind is not going to be competitive any time soon. The trade off between coal, CCGT and nuclear is heavily influenced by the current low cost of natural gas in the U.S. If we ever get to export natural gas and prices reach world market levels, this would significantly change the equation. Personally, I would like to see nuclear reduce costs and come out a clear winner but it seems that the nuclear industry is praying for a carbon tax to do their work for them. While I am not investing in coal, it seems irrational to write off coal, especially considering the huge resource base we have in the U.S. which I believe you discuss in Blowing Smoke.

      • Mark

        Whether or not wind or any other renewable is going to be competitive any time soon misses the point, which is that they aren’t fossil fuels and are therefore seen as clean, green and ‘acceptable’ to the powers that be.


      • Tonyb,

        Oh, silly me.

        You really do have a knack for making things clear and simple.

        I guess the objection to nuclear is ………….


      • MS See my essay Going Nuclear. My view is that between low sulfer coal for USC plants running 42-45% efficient and (especially in North America) 61% efficient CCGT, plus a Lewis and Curry TCR1.3 and ECS 1.7, there is neither an electricity generating fuel problem nor a global warming problem. That gives us the decades to thoroughy research the various gen 4 nuclear concepts that are (1) intrinsicly safe, (2) fuel efficient (consuming it all) and (3) minimize or eliminate radwaste. There are several such potential schemes.
        This appears to be what the Chinese are doing. They are massively building USC coal, building gen 3 nuclear, and aggressively researching gen 4. They have anounced a small experimental LFTR due 2016. Other than Gates funding TWR, there is not much happening in the US with any meaningful research backing. Maybe Lockheed Skunkworks high beta fusion. NIF should be shuttered stat, and those funds used to support some of the better alternative candidates. Nearly $7 billion now squandered.

    • Supplemental info. From the article:

      Coal powered plants are going to keep retiring, which means that the demand for coal in the U.S. will continue to fall. The coal suppliers predicted the demand for coal to decline, and so they began to reduce their production of coal after 1991. The price of coal took a few years to realize that the trend in production had turned bearish and took until 1999 to reach its local minimum price of approximately $28, after which the real price of coal went on a 96% bull run between 1999 and 2009 and the futures price of coal peaked at $132 in 2008.

      So long as power plants continue to be the major users of coal and power plants keep getting shut down, the coal suppliers will continue to reduce the amount of coal they produce. As long as this relationship continues, coal prices will continue to rise. After all, the coal must be bought, just to keep the lights on.


      • I have a working theory about our US based coal producers.
        They actually teach this stuff in the best universities.
        Natural gas prices wrecked their economic model.
        Plan B:
        Stuff your employee retirement plans with company stock.
        Declare bankruptcy, transfer their employee pension and healthcare obligations on to the government.
        Dump the clean up and restoration of their depleted mines on to the government.
        Bond holders (who shorted the equity) step in and restructure the company (which retained their lease rights to vast sections of public lands)
        NewCo opens for business with little debt, huge profits margins.

      • Well, hey. If the gubment regulates you out of business, the gubment can pay for cleanup. Sounds fair to me.

      • jim2,
        Quoting you above – NAT GAS 2.77
        The 2004 Clean Drinking Water Act prohibited the EPA in regulating the content of hydrological fracking fluids or their disposal.
        Under complete republican control of the white house & congress they could have blocked the EPA from regulating the coal industry but they didn’t. That’s the real story, the government picked winners (gas) and losers (coal).

      • 2004 was a long time ago and under different circumstances.

  15. The VOX article on solar perovskite (and the SciAm article motivating it) are incomplete and misleading. PE and I had a paragraph on the technology in our draft on solar grid parity; Judith felt it detracted frommthe main points. VOX correctly notes the instability with respect to moisture. Hermetic encapsulation will be costly at best. Neither VOX nor the researcher discuss the second instability, which is why the organometallic perovskite efficiencies carry a big asterisk on the NREL solar records charts. That is efficiency at first light. They degrade with exposure to light, also. Only IF the light degradation problem can be solved MIGHT their potential low cost from solgel aqueous deposition make them competitive. Certainly worth researching, but far from a commercializable breakthrough yet.

  16. My experience with solar is that the battery storage is the limiting factor after sunshine. We have a solar system for our travel trailer. While in Florida we had very little energy due to the cloudy days and huge coastal pines back in sunny Manitoba we are fully charged basically all the time. I have excess power from the trailer system so I have set up a solar charging station for anything rechargable like my laptop, my iPhone, my garden whipper snipper, via an extension cord from the trailer to my living room. We recently added our satellite radio system to that. So far batteries remain fully charged. I want to make solar a real component of our recently acquired stick house so more panels and more batteries are in the budget. I await the new tesla products with some scepticism but a lot of hope. It would be lovely to get off marine deep cycle batteries which are heavy, gov off gas that has to be vented and are not cheap.

  17. Historic Climate Court Decision in the Netherlands [link]

    Does their court have the power to enforce this judgment on the legislature or the executive?

    • To make a noticeable difference (to sea level rise and temps) how much will the Netherlands have to cut their CO2 missions? I suspect that it will have to be to zero and then they will have to begin sucking other countries’ CO2 emissions out of the air.

  18. In depth analysis of China INDC [link]:

    • To achieve peak carbon dioxide emissions by approximately 2030, or sooner as best efforts allow;
    • To lower carbon dioxide emissions per unit of GDP by 60% to 65% from 2005 levels;
    • To increase the share of non-fossil fuels in the primary energy mix to approximately 20%; and
    • To increase the volume of forest stock by approximately 4.5 billion cubic meters over 2005 levels, and; Continue to proactively adapt to climate change through: enhanced mechanism- and capacity-building; the effective management of climate change risks in sectors such as agriculture, forestry, and water resources and in regions including urban, coastal, and ecologically vulnerable areas; improved early warning and emergency response systems and disaster prevention and mitigation mechanisms.

    Isn’t that essentially “business as usual” for them?

    • Check the chart and tables.

      China’s coal consumption appears to have fallen for two years now.

      Some of it was chalked up to a rainy year filling the reservoirs for hydro-electric last year, but the trend is continuing. Demographics, debt leveraged economy, natural gas, weak global growth all seem to point to continuing declines.

      China didn’t come forward with a plan from magnanimity, they came forward because they knew the fertilizer was impacting the rotary impeller already.

  19. I am confused by: http://www.c2es.org/docUploads/legal-issues-brief-06-2015.pdf

    I think it says that any agreement must include a legal agreement that constitutes a treaty: “The Paris outcome arguably must include a core legal agreement constituting a treaty under international law;”. If this is the case then it would require congressional ratification, which is a non-starter. How does this square with Obama’s aim of doing an agreement without it being a treaty?

    • How does this square with Obama’s aim of doing an agreement without it being a treaty?

      Redefine the Constitution? Again?

  20. “US scientist sentenced to prison for fake HIV vaccine research”

    Sounds to me like the guy got what he deserved, but his supervisor/mentor that set the environment that led to his faking the data got off scott free.

  21. Bravo once again for Ivar Giaever for standing up to “the debate is over” crowd again.

    “On 13 September 2011, though honored as a Fellow, Giaever resigned from the American Physical Society over its official position noting: “In the APS it is ok to discuss whether the mass of the proton changes over time and how a multi-universe behaves, but the evidence of global warming is incontrovertible?”

  22. One of my comments is stuck in moderation.

  23. This is OT, but fascinating. The Greek vote is currently “NO” ~60%. This wasn’t anticipated. Tsipras is gambling that a NO vote improves his bargaining position. He might find himself out of a job and Greece out of the Euro or maybe even the EU.

    Realtime updates:


    • Not OT, IMO. The collapse of the Euro will have a huge impact on the EU’s position on “renewable energy” and “global warming”.

      • The powers that be will do anything to stop the euro collapsing as that would be an admittance that the whole wretched project was misconceived in the form it was allowed to take. Greece should never have been allowed to join.

        Not admitting they may have been wrong is of course not confined just to euro leaders…..


      • Speaking of “whole wretched projects”, some excerpts from The ‘Grexit’ Issue and the Problem of Free Trade by George Friedman at Stratfor (April 21, 2015):

        Obviously, the question is more complex. It is not clear that if the Greeks refuse to pay, they will be cut off from further loans. First, the other side might be bluffing, as it has in the past. Second, if they do pay the next round, and they do get the next tranche of funding, is this simply kicking the can down the road? Does it solve Greece’s underlying problem, which is that its debt structure is unsustainable? In a world that contains Argentina and American Airlines, we have learned that bankruptcy and lack of access to credit markets do not necessarily go hand in hand.

        To understand what might happen, we need to look at Hungary. Hungary did not join the euro, and its currency, the forint, had declined in value. Mortgages taken out by Hungarians denominated in euros, Swiss francs and yen spiraled in terms of forints, and large numbers of Hungarians faced foreclosure from European banks. In a complex move, the Hungarian government declared that these debts would be repaid in forints. The banks by and large accepted Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s terms, and the European Union grumbled but went along. Hungary was not the only country to experience this problem, but its response was the most assertive.

        A strategy inspired by Budapest would have the Greeks print drachmas and announce (not offer) that the debt would be repaid in that currency. The euro could still circulate in Greece and be legal tender, but the government would pay its debts in drachmas.

        The Deeper Questions

        In considering this and other scenarios, the pervading question is whether Greece leaves or stays in the eurozone. But before that, there are still two fundamental questions. First, in or out of the euro, how does Greece pay its debts currently without engendering social chaos? The second and far more important question is how does Greece revive its economy? Lurching from debt payment to debt payment, from German and IMF threats to German and IMF threats is amusing from a distance. It does not, however, address the real issue: Greece, and other countries, cannot exist as normal, coherent states under these circumstances, and in European history, long-term economic dysfunction tends to lead to political extremism and instability. The euro question may be interesting, but the deeper economic question is of profound importance to both the debtor and creditors.


        The Future of Free Trade

        The more fundamental issue concerns neither the euro nor the consequences of a Greek default. The core issue is the future of the European free trade zone. The main assumption behind European integration was that a free trade zone would benefit all economies. If that assumption is not true, or at least not always true, then the entire foundation of the European Union is cast into doubt, with the drachma-versus-euro issue as a short footnote.

        The idea that free trade is beneficial to all sides derives from a theory of the classical economist David Ricardo, whose essay on comparative advantage was published in 1817. Comparative advantage asserts that free trade allows each nation to pursue the production and export of those products in which the nation has some advantage, expressed in profits, and that even if a nation has a wide range of advantages, focusing on the greatest advantages will benefit the country the most. Because countries benefit from their greatest advantages, they focus on those, leaving lesser advantages to other countries for which these are the greatest comparative advantage.

        I understate it when I say this is a superficial explanation of the theory of comparative advantage. I do not overstate it when I say that this theory drove the rise of free trade in general, and specifically drove it in the European Union. It is the ideology and the broad outlines of the concept that interest me here, not the important details, as I am trying to get a high-level sense of Europe’s state.


        Put another way, Germany is not following the law of comparative advantage. Social scientists have many laws of behavior that are said to describe what people do and then turn into moral arguments of what they should do. I am not doing that. Germany empirically is not driven by Ricardo’s theories but by its own needs. In other words, the law of comparative advantage doesn’t work in Europe. As a result, Germany has grown faster than other European countries, has accumulated more power than other countries and has managed to distribute wealth in a way that creates political stability.

        You can follow the link above to continue Friedman’s ideas. I want to pursue a tangent: the Labor theory of value:

        The labor theory of value has developed over many centuries. It had no single originator, but rather many different thinkers arrived at the same conclusion independently. Some writers trace its origin to Thomas Aquinas.[9][10] In his Summa Theologiae (1265–1274) he expresses the view that “… value can, does and should increase in relation to the amount of labor which has been expended in the improvement of commodities.”[11] Scholars such as Joseph Schumpeter have cited Ibn Khaldun, who in his Muqaddimah (1377), described labor as the source of value, necessary for all earnings and capital accumulation. He argued that even if earning “results from something other than a craft, the value of the resulting profit and acquired (capital) must (also) include the value of the labor by which it was obtained. Without labor, it would not have been acquired.”[12] Scholars have also pointed to Sir William Petty’s Treatise of Taxes of 1662[13] and to John Locke’s labor theory of property, set out in the Second Treatise on Government (1689), which sees labor as the ultimate source of economic value. Karl Marx himself credited Benjamin Franklin in his 1729 essay entitled “A Modest Enquiry into the Nature and Necessity of a Paper Currency” as being “one of the first” to advance the theory.[14]

        Adam Smith accepted the theory for pre-capitalist societies but saw a flaw in its application to contemporary capitalism. He pointed out that if the “labor embodied” in a product equaled the “labor commanded” (i.e. the amount of labor that could be purchased by selling it), then profit was impossible. David Ricardo (seconded by Marx) responded to this paradox by arguing that Smith had confused labor with wages. “Labor commanded”, he argued, would always be more than the labor needed to sustain itself (wages). The value of labor, in this view, covered not just the value of wages (what Marx called the value of labor power), but the value of the entire product created by labor.[15]

        Ricardo’s theory was a predecessor of the modern theory that equilibrium prices are determined solely by production costs associated with Neo-Ricardianism.[16]


        Marx expanded on these ideas, arguing that workers work for a part of each day adding the value required to cover their wages, while the remainder of their labor is performed for the enrichment of the capitalist. The LTV and the accompanying theory of exploitation became central to his economic thought.


        Adam Smith held that, in a primitive society, the amount of labor put into producing a good determined its exchange value, with exchange value meaning in this case the amount of labor a good can purchase. However, according to Smith, in a more advanced society the market price is no longer proportional to labor cost since the value of the good now includes compensation for the owner of the means of production: “The whole produce of labour does not always belong to the labourer. He must in most cases share it with the owner of the stock which employs him.”[18] “Nevertheless, the ‘real value’ of such a commodity produced in advanced society is measured by the labor which that commodity will command in exchange. … But [Smith] disowns what is naturally thought of as the genuine classical labor theory of value, that labor-cost regulates market-value. This theory was Ricardo’s, and really his alone.”[19]

        I find it interesting how the same person was deeply involved in refining the Marxist version of the “labor theory of value” and also the “Law of Comparative Advantage” used to justify “free trade” in the Eurozone.

        As I said at the top, Speaking of “whole wretched projects”…

      • Curious George

        A beautiful article by a former boss of Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis. It helps to dispel myths about Greece. In fact, (my own words) evil lenders are trying to blackmail the sovereign Greek government into paying its debts.

      • Curious George

        James K. Galbraith holds the Lloyd M. Bentsen Jr. Chair in Government/Business Relations at the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs, the University of Texas at Austin. In Texas you get what you pay for.

      • Interesting article, MS. Personally, the EU doesn’t make much sense as it is now. I think Greece would be better off in the long run if it dropped out of the EU. There would be some disruption, but it would stabilize and the debt would be non-existent. Greece could then bump along on tourist money.

      • Either a yes or no vote will result in change of the situation of unsustainable pensions. They can continue to lend money but it is unsustainable. Eventually debt results in economic failure.

      • Greece out of the EU would force Greece to be responsible for its own decisions. A good thing IMO. Getting more EU crack isn’t going to fix anything.

      • Curious George

        “James K. Galbraith holds the Lloyd M. Bentsen Jr. Chair in Government/Business Relations at the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs, the University of Texas at Austin. In Texas you get what you pay for.”

        The people of the great state of Texas are very generous to finance, via the Univ. of Texas at Austin, that lefty Mr. Galbraith.

        Who knows what will happen in Greece? I have thought for a long time that Greece can’t stay in the EU. I know nothing about the contractual obligations of the EU to Greece, but clearly Greece is a financial liability for the EU. Unfortunately for the EU, Greece owes a lot of money. Someone, somewhere is going to get a haircut.

      • Greece doesn’t have to leave the EU. All it has to do is drop the Euro, go back to its own currency, and repay the debt in depreciated drachmas.

      • Mark

        As an observer of the eu and the euro by virtue of being British and therefore outside the euro zone I found the article to be shallow and misleading. It’s difficult to deal with a Marxist govt at the best of times, especially one with a leader who seems highly capricious. Galbraith is in favour of deficits and therefore as part of his philosophy would be sympathetic to the Greek position.


        The German taxpayer has had more than enough of it all. Whether they will prevail over eu govts that will never admit their mistake of creating a nonsensical currency without the proper fiscal underpinnings remains to be seen.


      • Thanks for the insights.

        I have felt that the euro and the EU were poorly thought out initiatives. I can’t see how it works long term. I lived in France and Italy for several years at a time, so have some real world perspective on Europe. I also worked there on and off for another 20 years. The immense bureaucracy that has been created in Brussels is mind boggling in it’s scope and regulatory focus.

        For those of you who are not familiar with Texas politics, there is a very Liberal strain of intellectuals and politicians in the State that Galbraith fits right in with. The University of Texas and Austin (the Capitol City) are pretty lefty.

      • Mark

        To large bureaucracy you can add undemocratic, unaccountable and over reaching. The trouble is that the raison d’être of the EU is ‘ever closer union.’ the euro was supposed to be another step on that road but could not work with a one size fits all philosophy that was never underpinned by compulsory adherence to fiscal and monetary union.

        Greece fiddled the books to be allowed in, but the eu knew it was fiddling the books and went along with it.

        Allow Greece better terms and Ireland Spain and Portugal will want them to. The eu leaders know that Greece can’t be allowed to call the tune and stay in the euro but they also don’t want to admit they were wrong in constructing the euro in the ludicrous way they did. An interesting conundrum.

        Admit they were wrong and expel greece from the euro or pour more billions into Greece?

        Our leaders hubris and pride knows no bounds so I wouldn’t take bets on which course they will follow


      • This essay just came out on The American Interest web site. Walter Russell Mead’s take on the situation is pretty much on the mark in my view.


      • Mark

        Good article, especially as it makes many of the points that I did!

        We in Britain didn’t vote for an ever closer Union, but for a free trade area. Let’s hope this mission creep of establishing a United states of Europe has hit the buffers at last


      • tony – Do I perceive a bit of pride that you Brits don’t use the euro?

      • Jim

        Sure. But if we could all see the euro was madness what pocessed much of Europe to embrace it?

        The answer to that I suppose lies in the recent history of Europe and the determination of the continent to make sure it never happened again. We viewed things differently because of our different experience. There are many countries in Europe wanting an ever closer union and I suppose that idealism overcame their common sense.


      • Tonyb,

        The American Interest piece really did reinforce your point of view. I think it is a good one.

        Let me ask you this, isn’t the EU and the euro the ultimate Progressive experiment in management and governance? If so, no wonder that they have bought hook, line and sinker into the CAGW meme.

      • Curious George

        Justin – I wonder how many students have been brainwashed … pardon, taught .. by Prof. Varoufakis and Prof. Galbraith. The future is bright indeed.

    • With 70% of the returns counted, the “no” vote is winning 61.5% to 38.5%.

      Another victory for progressive pollsters who uniformly reported that it was too close to call, with a difference of 3-4% between yes and no. You know, like the tie that was so accurately predicted in the recent English election.

      There’s lies, damn lies, statistics, and post-normal progressive statistics..

      • In related news, the Greek foreign minister says the Greeks have said no to “more austerity.” I guess he’s right, if you don’t consider economic collapse austere.

        Unless, as I expect, the German and French EU progressives decide to cave to the slightly more progressive Greek government and steal more from German taxpayers to bribe the Greeks. And all to protect the deconstruction of European sovereignty and democracy through the EU.

    • Wall Street isn’t going to respond well to a no vote, but it’s mostly moot, creditors terms will hardly change no matter what the vote.

  24. For those of you who believe voting machines are safe:

    Police have raided the home of an Argentinian security professional who discovered and reported several vulnerabilities in the electronic ballot system (Google translation of Spanish original) to be used next week for elections in the city of Buenos Aires. The vulnerabilities (exposed SSL keys and ways to forge ballots with multiple votes) had been reported to the manufacturer of the voting machines, the media, and the public about a week ago.


    • Watch Mr. Robot

      The people who cast the votes decide nothing. The people who count the votes decide everything.” – Joseph Stalin

      See also Bush v Gore.

      • I’d frame it different. The people elected the politicians that offered expansive centralized control of government the people wanted. So in fact the people decided everything. The same people don’t want to pay the bills. The same people don’t understand why others won’t pay their bills. The same people will learn how to live within their means; the same way when a child moves away from home and runs up a credit card who learns that it hurts to work off the debt, and it hurts to declare bankruptcy, but they either learn to manage accounts or continue to suffer.

      • jungletrunks – Yes, the US is going down the same path as Greece. But no matter how many credit cards we max out, we just get a couple more.

      • Yea Jim, unfortunately having higher credit is proportionate to the pain felt from the height of the fall.

      • There is more than one way to skin that cat.
        Promise the people a new era of small government.
        Slash taxes for the rich AKA Bush tax cuts.
        Invade Iraq – add trillions on to the credit card and 50 years of caring for 100,000 veterans on disability for PTSD
        Deregulate your financial markets and when it blows up invent quantitative easing.
        BUT, Here’s where we are not like Greece – we will get away with it because we have the largest nuclear weapons arsenal and we spend more on our military than the next 5 largest nations in the world combined and we are not scared of launching a per-emptive nuclear strike and everybody knows it. Using your analogy child runs up credit card, takes out life insurance policy on parents and then poisons them.

      • Deal with the facts
        Spending on Social Programs annually is more than $2 Trillion higher than it was 20 years ago and is nearly $3 Trillion now. Bush tax cuts involved loss of revenue never exceeding $120 Billion annually and have now expired. Defense spending has gone from just under $300 Billion annually to $600 Billion. Democratically inspired Social Programs are drowning the US in Debt.

      • cerescokid,
        I know you would be first in line to eliminate SS, Medicare and pretty much all social programs – I can feel your empathy. But consider this, how much of the money spent on these social programs actually leave circulation and ends up in hedge funds, off shore bank accounts or political super PACs? Consider for just a moment how much money the average American has in savings, it’s tiny. Every dime they get they spend it on the necessities of life; food, shelter, energy and healthcare. If the US economy is 70% based on consumer spending what you are proposing would be economic suicide.
        What this world needs is a debt jubilee. Think of it as bankruptcy for debt holders. The world will not end if we reboot capitalism.

      • Jack,–Okay, use Greece as a thumbnail to your theory. They reset, who lends them money? Nobody, they have bad credit. Okay, no big deal, they print their own money and rebuild their economy organically, right? So who pays the pensions still on the books? Have they really reset if they continue the same policies? So the government prints dollars to pay ever increasing pensions because they don’t have the tax receipts. Massive inflation ensues. Raise taxes you say? How does business create expansion for growth, how do they create start-ups? Government doesn’t create GDP, oh, but turn to communism maybe? Motivation and hard work creates reward, why work hard if there’s no reward, productivity flatlines or falls, everyone makes the same under communism which leads to further apathy. The leaders surround themselves with sycophants to insulate their power like pure centrally planned governments do, the country becomes ever more dystopian. Paint me your vision of the turnaround and why you think it will work?

      • The world will not end if we reboot capitalism.

        Actually, there’s a high probability it would. After something like that, everybody in the world would look at debt in a different way. Capitalism might just stop working. After all, money is mostly just a figment of everybody’s shared imagination.

      • JT,
        This is way bigger than just Greece. We spent more than what Greece owes in a couple of months in Iraq during the war and nobody blinked. I’m talking about ‘The Final Solution’ for the whole thing.
        Today I was watching a C-SPAN panel of economic ‘experts’ and I heard one lady say there was now 180 trillion of notational debt in the world. I’m going to guess that 99% of that debt is owned by banks, people or countries that claim to be operating under the economic philosophy of what we call capitalism. I will predict that most of that debt will never be paid. The question then becomes do we settle this absurd situation by informing the lenders that they made a bad decision when they created that debt (practically out of thin air) and will have to write down it’s value to maybe 3-4 cents on the dollar -or- let’s start WWIII and nobody gets out alive. I guess we will find out soon enough.

        *When you look up the history of the concept of a debt jubilee you will see it’s nearly as old as civilization itself. With the rise of fractional banking the idea fell out of favor but I don’t see any other way out. 180 trillion dollars of debt, really?

      • Mike Flynn


        I believe Greece has a primary surplus. That is, the Goverment receives more than it spends, without borrowing.

        If that is the case, then just declining to pay its creditors might be a reasonable option. Hopefully, no one would lend Greece any more money, which would be a blessing. Borrowing was what caused the problem in the first place.

        Greece would then have to live within its income, unlike most countries who believe that borrowing money to pay off previous loans can continue for ever.

        I can’t really see too many benefits in the meme that you can “borrow your way out of debt”. There seems to be a lot of wishful thinking by economic experts, but their predictions are about as good as those of climatologists.

        The Greek situation will be interesting, whatever the outcome.

  25. Still in the lab and only 1% efficient, but kinda neat – transparent solar panels: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/08/140819200219.htm

    • It […] can be used on buildings, cell phones and any other device that has a flat, clear surface.

      Including the top/sides of greenhouses. Of any size.

    • Yep. Might make a great Apple watch charger.

  26. In “Where Electric Vehicles Actually Cause More Pollution Than Gas Cars” we read: “There will be a niche for gasoline cars, but our calculations show there are substantial benefits to electric vehicles in some places.”

    By eyeball it looks like the “niche” covers about 80-90% of the surface area of the contiguous US, including many swaths with high population densities, while the non-niche area is on the order of 10-20% of the land area. Cognitive dissonance anyone?

    • Actually, I think they, and you, are overlooking some plausible (certainly not certain) developments. I went and googled “trailer generators 40KW”, got a rough price range of $100-1000/KW. Now, suppose a 25 KW trailer/generator was produced with a good profile and suspension for use behind an electric car, manufactured in volume?

      Despite the (probable) need to build in additional ruggedness to run while being towed at highway speeds, I suspect with learning curve and economies of scale you could hit the lower end of that: a 25KW (32 Hp) trailer suitable for towing behind an electric car might retail for ~$2500. Anybody who wanted a plug-in electric car but also wanted to be able to take convenient highway trips could just add this to the cost.

      And for those with only occasional needs: rental. A trailer towed outside the car would be much less imposition than renting the whole thing.

      This could potentially redefine the whole market.

      • You do realise that towing a trailer uses a LOT more fuel, don’t you?

      • I’ve driven towing trailers. Yes, you lose some fuel efficiency. But with regenerative breaking, and a good aerodynamic profile, I suspect it could be minimized. Remember you’re talking about something small and low, right behind the car in its draft.

        More importantly, the key market would be for people who usually can get by with plug-in. Trailers would be for those 2-3/year trips. Those with more need could use plug-in hybrids, and of course many would continue with the current technology.

        My point is that with the proper developments of already mature technology, fully electric cars would not be prohibited from longer travel. Whether they’d be better than plug-in hybrids would depend on relative costs and circumstances.

      • GM has a simpler solution. Technically they call it a range extended plug in electric. Its brand name is Chevy Volt.

      • AK,

        You are essentially describing a diesel locomotive.

      • Thanks Rud. My comment would have been entirely different if I’d realized the term “range extender” would get me where I wanted to go. Toyota has had one too.

        The Long Ranger was an AC Propulsion project (commissioned by Toyota) to build a generator trailer that would allow liquid-fueled high-speed travel in the Rav4EV. There were many obstacles to this project seeing the light of day – most of them bureaucratic. For most practical purposes, the project was a great success that never really saw the light of day before the Rav4EV program was terminated. A 500cc motorcycle engine is used, housed in a small, aerodynamic package. ~20kW DC output is sufficient for extended high-speed travel. The micro trailer incorporates intelligent “BackTracker” steering which automatically maintains trailer-to-vehicle alignment during backing to avoid jack-knifing. There is little question that this 350 pound trailer functioned as planned – sustaining freeways speeds for as long as the 9.5 gallon tank had gasoline. Amazingly, even with all the conversion losses added up, the gas mileage of this combo is comparable or BETTER than the pure gasoline version of the same vehicle.

      • A great moment in technological projection, when I say something “ought” to exist, and it turns out it does.

      • I’d much rather put my gas in the tank feeding my internal combustion engine, the engine that’s much cheaper than an EV battery pack.

      • I’d much rather put my gas in the tank feeding my internal combustion engine, […]

        Well, I certainly hope that remains your choice. But what may well not remain your choice is whether to enter certain indoor or enclosed roadways designated EV-only. Quite a few internal parking options will probably be much easier to build if they don’t have to provide for ventilation for IC engines, or vehicles containing them.

        And, IMO, this might well extend to internal access to living space. I could easily imagine an apartment or condo building with internal roadways leading to indoor parking areas right next to your door. No fuel-burners allowed.

        That was the point of my comment about using them indoors: it solves a bunch of other problems in living-space design for urban areas.

      • Curious George

        Let’s build Segway communities!

      • When they first came out, I suggested building transparent tubes that could provide 3-D access between and within tall buildings (office, apartment, shopping mall). Somebody called them (my suggested tubes) “Habitrails for Humans”.

      • Your price point is way off, though. This Honda portable generator with no trailer and no DOT safety certification is $2,000 for a continuous output of just about 1/10 of what you are looking for.


      • There’s much cheaper available. And with economies of scale, and the right technology (motorcycle engines, more rugged generators, proper suspension) I’m guessing under $100/KW once it gets going. Which for a 25KW unit would be around $2500. A small fraction of the car’s price.

    • Moral of the story: There are certain areas that you can never joke about in public.

      • Have you ever seen one of those “bar fight” scenes where everybody’s crashing chairs over anybody else’s head at random? Maybe the “politically correct” left is moving into that stage.

    • Constitutional protection of unpopular or potentially offensive speech is unique to the USA. Neither Europe, nor Great Britain, nor our little Europe to the north, Canada, has it. France is my favorite example of expensive speech – it prosecuted Bridget Bardot several times. Now we know she was correct.

      • But that protection is under relentless assault here too. Just ask the bakers who refused to bake a gay wedding cake in Oregon and were fined $134,000 and hit with an order to never speak against gay marriage again for their trouble.

  27. Relative to the article “Germany’s Green Energy Transition May Be Running Out Of Money, Study Warns”

    The shock burden in German society was described in a German essay in 2012 by Daniel Wetzel. The Global Warming Policy Foundation took the link down from their site that I used as reference before; interesting, but I found it referenced elsewhere, excerpt and link below:

    Lies, Damn Lies And Green Statistics

    Almost all predictions about the expansion and cost of German wind turbines and solar panels have turned out to be wrong – at least by a factor of two, sometimes by a factor of five.

    When Germany’s power grid operator announced the exact amount of next year’s green energy levy on Monday, it came as a shock to the country. The cost burden for consumers and industry have reached a “barely tolerable level that threatens the de-industrialization of Germany”, outraged business organisations said.

    Since then politicians, business representatives and green energy supporters have been arguing about who is to blame for the “electricity price hammer”. After all, did not Chancellor Angela Merkel (CDU) promise that green energy subsidies would not be more than 3.6 cents per kilowatt hour? How could Merkel be so wrong?

    Now, however, the cost burden is rising by 50 percent – to 5.3 cents per kilowatt hour. German citizens have to support renewable energy by more than EUR 20 billion – instead of 14 billion Euros. How could Merkel be so wrong?


    Other links:


    The following is a companion piece by the same author published in Die Welt. The English translation link was also taken down for this article. Sorry I couldn’t find another but thought it worthy to post its entirety:

    Date: 28/05/14, Daniel Wetzel, Die Welt
    Germany’s Green Jobs Miracle Collapses

    Renewable energy was supposed to create tens of thousands of green jobs. Yet despite three-digit Euro billions of subsidies, the number of jobs is falling rapidly. Seven out of ten jobs will only remain as long as the subsidies keep flowing.

    The subsidization of renewable energy has not led to a significant, sustainable increase in jobs. According to recent figures from the German Government, the gross employment in renewable energy decreased by around seven per cent to 363,100 in 2013.

    Further job cuts expected.

    In the core of the industry, the production of renew- able energy systems, only 230,800 people were employed last year: a drop of 13 percent within one year, which is primarily due to the collapse of the German solar industry.

    There is no improvement in sight, according to the recent report by the Federal Government. It says: “Overall, a further decline of employees will probably be observed in the renewable energies sector this and next year.”

    15 years after the start of green energy subsidies through the Renewable Energy Sources Act (EEG), the vast majority of jobs from in this sector are still dependent on subsidies.

    Hardly any self-supporting jobs in Green energy

    According to official figures from the Federal Govern- ment, 70% of gross employment was due to the EEG last year. Although this is a slight decrease compared to 2012, seven out of ten jobs in the eco-energy sector are still subsidized by the Renewable Energy Sources Act (EEG).

    Around 137,800 employees work in the wind sector which was the only eco-energy sector, besides geothermal, that increased employment. About 56,000 employees in photovoltaic sector depend on EEG payments.

    Investments drop by 20 percent

    Subsidies for the generation of green electricity have been paid for almost 15 years and have piled up into a three-digit billion sum, which has to be paid over 20 years by electricity consumers through their electric- ity bills. This year alone, consumers must subsidize the production of green electricity to the tune of around 20 billion Euros. A lasting effect on the labour

    market is not obvious.

    The report,“Gross employment in renewable energy sources in Germany in 2013, commissioned by the Federal Ministry of Economy and Energy, was jointly written by the institutes DLR, DIW , STW , GWS and Prognos. According to the researchers, the cause of the decrease in employment is the declining invest- ments in green energy systems.

    The investments in renewable energy sources in Germany fell by a fifth, to 16.09 billion Euros in the past year. Only about half as many solar panels were installed in Germany as the year before. Investment in biomass plants and solar thermal dropped as well.

    “Nothing left from the job miracle“

    The researchers do not expect that the production of high quality green energy systems will still lead to a job boom in Germany. For this year and the next they expect a further decline in employment instead. Thereafter, low-tech sectors such as “operation and maintenance” as well as the supply of biomass fuels are expected to „stabilise the employment effect”.

    “A few years ago the renewable sector was the job miracle in Germany, now nothing is left of all of that,” said the deputy leader of the Greens in the Bundestag, Oliver Krischer.

    The Green politician is sceptical about the attempts by the Federal Government to reduce the subsidy dependence of the green energy sector: „The brakes on the expansion of renewables by the previous conservative-liberal government is now fully hitting the job market,” said Krischer: “Thanks to the current EEG reform by the Union and SPD, the innovative and young renewables industry will lose more jobs.“

    The bottom line, no jobs remain

    The report by the Federal Government explicitly esti- mates only the „gross employment“ created primarily by green subsidies. The same subsidies, however,have led to rising costs and job losses in many other areas, such as heavy industry and commerce as well as conventional power plant operators. For a net analysis, the number of jobs that have been prevented or destroyed as a result would have to be deducted from the gross number of green jobs.

    Researchers such as the president of the Munich- based IFO institute, Hans-Werner Sinn, believe that the net effect of subsidies for renewable energy on the labour market is equal to zero:

    “Whoever claims that net jobs have been created must prove that the capital intensity of production in the new sectors is smaller than in the old ones. There are no indications for that. ”

    “There is no positive net effect on employment by the EEG,” said Sinn: “Through subsidies for inefficient technologies not a single new job has been created, but wealth has been destroyed.“

    Translation Philip Mueller Die Welt, 26 May 2014

    • The UK is undergoing a similar experience on a smaller scale, as they were not as agressive as the Germans. Rocketing electricity bills, Subsidy costs way above projections, conventional plant closings, panicked efforts last year to line up (cash in advance) costly unconventional reserve buffer (plant shutdowns to cut load, standby diesel generators) to insure grid stability…
      It looks like when 10 percent renewable is crossed, things go south. Next up, California and Hawaii.

      • The price of electricity, especially for moderate (translation: poor and middle class) users, is going to go up. The PUC approved a new rate structure during the federal holiday. Note that ALL the public utility commissioners are Governor Jerry “moonbeam” Brown appointees – a classic case of a stacked deck.

      • Oops – I forgot to mention this is for the formerly great state of California.

      • “Next up, California and Hawaii”

        Yea I agree about CA. I have a sick feeling the rest of the country will be subsidizing their naive grand experiment. I can only hope there’s a silver lining in that the unsustainability of CA policy is realized before other states attempt the same.

        Bigger picture is this sadly illustrates the corruption of the U.S. press and the politics that drive it. The German struggle with alternatives is widely known by the average German citizen who is paying about 3x what U.S. citizens pay in utilities. Yet most people in the U.S. don’t have a clue about the cost issues with alternatives in Germany. It’s reprehensible. The politics of AGW and the green movement to crush oil are synergistic causes for the left. The mostly progressive controlled media is used to sculpt messaging who in turn downplay anything that may hinder the advancement of agenda. Lying by omission, crafty yellow journalism seems to have taken over a large amount journalism, in particular online journalism.

      • JT, do whatever is within your scope beyond this blog. Me, I told Harvard they would not get another nickel as long as Oreskes was there. Wrote three published books, the last two directly on point. Invested own money into better energy storage carbons for supercaps, cause they make a difference on the energy storage margin.
        Judith puts enormous energy into this blog, and testifies to Congress. How can We help you with your own whatever contributions. Every bit counts. It all adds up. Do whatever you are comfortable doing. Look for inspiration to PE, who has to remain anonymous, but contributes his several decades of utility knowledge from Caltech on here, for the rest of us to amplify.

  28. Here are two items that may be of interest:
    (1) in today’s Financial Times–“US Renewables Industry Seeks Tax Breaks to Compete with Gas”
    (2) last Monday Matt Ridley was interviewed by Russ Roberts on EconTalk

  29. Ristvan–Judith’s blog is a very valuable hub for critical and influential thinkers as you described, we’re not all “like thinkers” either obviously, which is a large part of its power and appeal. Many blogs are tightly censored, eliminating dissent, but dissent is vital for the cultivation of strong ideas. There’s a few blogs I can’t post on any longer, they’re all exclusively left leaning blogs. This is a very disturbing trend in media, but it’s larger than that. Higher institutions are quickly becoming factories of group think and intolerance. It’s all been described on this blog. You know it’s bad when liberals are writing books complaining about progressive intolerance, i.e. Kirsten Powers book on the subject.

    The recent discussion of climate memes; brilliant, it applies to the broad branding of culture today too. The medias deliberate cultivation of dividing and segregating demographics; demonizing and making cartoons of the right; the sociologic science studies of the opposition et al, all meant to stigmatize society. If we can’t get a handle on intolerance of dissenting views as a society then we are in for a big fail. Cultivating stimulating discussion and debate on this blog can attract lever pullers I’d like to believe. Big kudos and thanks to Judith for the great deal of effort she puts into this blog to cultivate a broad spectrum of views. Multiple views and disciplines create richness and leads to tolerance and respect, it leads to better problem solving too.

  30. Danny Thomas

    Not read all posts/comments yet, but stumbled across this earlier and wanted to offer for our Australian friends: http://www.smh.com.au/environment/climate-change/a-lump-of-coal-for-a-new-era-power-emissions-rise-as-climate-policy-changes-20150704-gi53l8.html

  31. Do forced choices promote green energy? Some surprising results, with policy implications.[link]

    “We have speculated that greater effectiveness of forced choice as compared with green
    energy defaults might be driven by guilt and reactance. When people are required to choose, that
    mere requirement might trigger otherwise dormant or ineffective moral values and social norms,
    ensuring very different results from standard energy defaults.”

    Message: forcing people to feel guilty about choices they make, or, especially don’t make, when those choices are framed in a moral and “socially betterment” context, pushes people to make the choice they do not feel good about even though they did ostensively “make” the choice.

    Governments may wish to use the guilt mechanism to force citizen enrollment into programs, especially “green” programs deemed socially beneficial.

    The authors of this social science study carry on the current Harvard and Columbia social policy thoughts regarding forcing social change ala what and how Saul Alinsky did in Chicago.

    The article is an informative read if nothing other than providing an insight into what the rascals are up to.

  32. “‘battery parity’, the moment when home solar + a lithium-ion battery makes economic sense, will arrive in Germany by next summer, 2016.” – price of energy storage link
    The worse we make the electricity market by disrupting it, the better batteries look.

    “The study authors concluded that, at a capital cost of $350 / kwh for lithium-ion batteries (which they expected by 2020, but which Tesla has already beaten), it made sense across the ERCOT region to deploy at least 15,000 MWh of battery storage.” New plan. Reduce solar and wind subsidies. Give that reduction money to batteries. Do this and everything will fall into place didn’t work. We are now at, Do this and do this 2nd thing.

  33. The Greeks only wanted to dine out at the Big Government Free Lunch cafe. Their “No” vote is nothing more than a prideful way of admitting no economy can continue to pull that amount of dead weight — not without someone else continually picking up the tab.

    The result in Greece is the culmination of the Left’s decision to defrock morality, common decency and for having its way with the Golden Goose. It will take years to flush out their dysfunctional society given the dented-up political and economic system that has been so severely corrupted by lies, superstition and envy of government junkies.

    The official Greek medium of exchange is now grounded in a Leftist ponzi scheme economic shell game and their liberal Utopia is become a blame game of how and why cash for clunkers Euro-communism resulted in economic chaos.

  34. While we have a sane debate about global warming, the gubment continues on with Unicorn projects.
    This pilot testing is now giving U.S. researchers the opportunity to evaluate the long-term performance of the nation’s first grid-connected 20-kilowatt wave energy converter (WEC) device to be independently tested by a third party—the University of Hawaii—in the open ocean, the DOE said.

    The current phase of in-water testing at the WETS’s 30-meter test berth has already proven valuable in gathering performance and reliability data from the device in deep water, open-ocean conditions. The data will be used to further optimize Azura’s performance and refine existing wave energy computer simulations, ultimately supporting commercialization of this technology, the DOE stated.

    • jim2,

      Back in the late 70’s I was part of am Exxon team that was charged to evaluate the commercial potential of ocean wave energy capture. At the time, Lockheed Ocean Systems was flogging something they called damatoll. Conceptually it was a bit different from the U of Hawaii stuff, but needless to say we decided not to invest.

      Harnessing wind wave energy to generate electricity on a commercial scale is as Unicorn as they get.

      Sad to see the gubment is still pouring money down the drain.

      • I would be willing to attempt to extract energy from Obama as he waves goodbye.

      • How about tidal power?

      • jim2,

        Probably more energy from those of shooing him off.

        Jim D,

        The tides are an excellent source of predictable and reliable energy. It should beat the heck out of windmills and solar, but from what I can tell tidal energy projects suffer from all the same green hyped environmental “concerns” and impediments that nuclear has faced. Also they tend to be in your backyard and nobody wants them in their back yard. I would expect a regulatory and permitting nightmare. Nonetheless, there are a few in the works: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tidal_power

  35. RE Government policy gone awry, like Green Energy is destined to. Admittedly, this is OT, but is typical of politicians making promises that many of us saw were simply lies. They are doing the same thing with their “climate change” policy push. From the article:

    WASHINGTON — Health insurance companies around the country are seeking rate increases of 20 percent to 40 percent or more, saying their new customers under the Affordable Care Act turned out to be sicker than expected. Federal officials say they are determined to see that the requests are scaled back.

    Blue Cross and Blue Shield plans — market leaders in many states — are seeking rate increases that average 23 percent in Illinois, 25 percent in North Carolina, 31 percent in Oklahoma, 36 percent in Tennessee and 54 percent in Minnesota, according to documents posted online by the federal government and state insurance commissioners and interviews with insurance executives.

    The Oregon insurance commissioner, Laura N. Cali, has just approved 2016 rate increases for companies that cover more than 220,000 people. Moda Health Plan, which has the largest enrollment in the state, received a 25 percent increase, and the second-largest plan, LifeWise, received a 33 percent increase.


  36. Danny Thomas

    Dr. Curry,

    Received a notification about a new post: “Recent hiatus caused by decadal shift in Indo-Pacific heating”, but get an error 404 (File not found) and it’s not listed on your site that I can find.