Week in review – energy and policy edition

by Judith Curry

A few thinks that caught my eye this past week.

Here’s how we can give climate-displaced persons deserve a dignified transition. [link]

China May Shelve Plans to Build Dams on Its Last Wild River [link]

In Ethiopia, young women lead conversation about #population, health, and the #environment [link]

Natural regeneration of tropical forests reaps benefits [link]

Air pollution in India is so bad, it kills a half million people per year [link]

Worth reading re learning from climate policy “mistakes” [link]

The US Is Badly Underinvesting in Electricity Infrastructure [link] …

Micro-hydro in #Nepal helps to improve people’s lives, but can it help bring stability? [link]

Carbon-offset deal would cost airlines $6.2 billion in 2025: IATA [link]

Good balanced overview of debate over fracking, CO2/CH4 [link] …

Shell outlines ‘below 2C’ #climate scenario: [link] …

With sea level rise, Miami Beach builds higher streets and political willpower [link]

California Governor Makes Some Water Restrictions Permanent [link]

Here’s Why There’s a Searing Ethiopian Drought Without an Epic Ethiopian Famine [link]

The End Of Hunger? ‘Calamitous Famines’ Seem To Have Disappeared [link]

The effectiveness, costs and coastal protection benefits of natural and nature-based defences: [link]

Wyoming rancher beats EPA in pond fight [link]

The climate-nuclear-security nexus [link]

Carbon dioxide emissions from US energy sector fall 12% since 2005 [link]

Shipping industry’s carbon footprint double whammy: fossil fuels comprise >1/3 by weight of the stuff we ship by sea [link]

Europe’s experience with renewable-energy shows mandates drive up prices & hurt national competitiveness [link]

Not-so-Big Oil: @TheEconomist on how supermajors are being forced to rethink their biz model [link]

The environmental cost of moving stuff is huge. How can we shrink it? [link] …

Can we save the algae biofuel industry? [link]

How economists rod maths to become our era’s astrologers [link]

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

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

  2. Algae biofuels. The Conversation piece is shallow, arguing coproducts help the exonomics. Think Shell and Exxon don’t know that?. The issue isn’t only economics. Its the physical reality of needed water and CO2. Essay Salvation by Swamp covers these.

    • I suspect they’re talking about 1st generation stuff. Joule seems to be doing OK.

      • Ak, they aren’t dead yet like Sapphire Energy, which has turned to neutraceuticals rather than biofuels. Perhaps that is what you meant. Joule is three years late to commercial production, still calling their GMO cyanobacteria ‘catalysts’, still making unverified cost and yield claims, still tweaking their pilot plant without reporting experimental results, and still has not solved the CO2 source problem. Hiring the ex CEO of Alcatel is not confidence inspiring, either.

      • Well, they’re certainly not setting the world on fire. Yet (if ever).

        Couple of points: calling their algae ‘catalysts’ is probably a semantic/regulatory trick. And yes, the CO2 source issue is unsolved.

        Thing is, many people want this fossil CO2 issue solved as quickly as possible. Which means they’ve got to have some nurturing for processes that fit together like ambient CO2 extraction and power→fuel. All the R&D in the world isn’t going to produce a cost-effective process without higher-volume learning curve (e.g. Wright’s “Law”).

        One option is to develop the technologies in parallel, using existing CO2 sources for power→fuel and existing CO2 uses for ambient CO2 extraction while they’re still in the nurturing stage, then fitting them together when they’re mature enough.

        For me the big question is: can it be done without substantial cost increases for energy or other aspects of the general lifestyle. If it can, perhaps it’s worth it to keep the alarmists happy, even for those who don’t think there’s any real gain from it.

        Of course, IMO many of the alarmists don’t really care about CO2 or climate at all, they’re just using it as a stalking horse for their agenda. But even here, a technological solution (at low cost) would not only deprive them of their stalking horse, but help to discredit them when they start spouting specious excuses why their problem still hasn’t been solved.

  3. Steven Mosher

    The End Of Hunger? ‘Calamitous Famines’ Seem To Have Disappeared [link]

    I Blame climate change

    • CO2 greens the planet.

      More realistically, I remember complaints about people starving while grain shipments were rotting on the docks going back to the ’70’s. I suspect the real reason is politics. Somehow. (Usually politics makes things worse)

      • From the Ethiopian drought famine link:

      • There is an easy explanation:

      • According to NPR today (or was it BBC world service), the difference in Ethiopia from past famines, is largely due to better roads.

      • [… L]argely due to better roads.

        Better as in easier to drive on? Or better as in fewer bandits?

      • More of them. Areas can be supplied more easily.

      • Jim D wrote, “According to NPR today (or was it BBC world service), the difference in Ethiopia from past famines, is largely due to better roads.”

        U.S. Sends $128M Aid For Ethiopia’s Worst Drought In 50 Years

        It’s not just about roads.

      • It’s not just about roads.

        It’s not about sending aid, that’s for sure:

        NYTimes 5/17/1985: IN ETHIOPIA, FOOD ROTS ON THE DOCKS

        ASSAB, Ethiopia, May 12— In this Red Sea port, the breeze now carries the sharp smell of rotting grain.

        Hundreds of bags of wheat from the United States, Canada and other Western countries have turned as hard as concrete. Many other bags have split open, spilling their discolored contents across the hot, dusty ground.


        But even more difficult is moving the food into the remote – and in many cases embattled – areas of the countryside where the famine is most serious. #100,000 Tons Stockpiled At Assab, which receives 70 percent of the relief aid, the obstacle is mainly, but not entirely, logistic. United Nations officials say the port can ”comfortably handle” a backlog of 50,000 tons of emergency food. But that level was passed in February and more than 100,000 tons are now stockpiled, much of it on the ground and in the open.

        Rolling Stone 7/18/1985: Report From Ethiopia

        Mothers, grandmothers and a few fathers, all dressed in rags the color of dust, sit beneath a corrugated-iron roof, feeding their children porridge from plastic beakers. They are starving, victims not of famine but of logistics — and they are very, very lucky. For the time being, that is.

        They are in a feeding program at the Red Cross center in Makale, Ethiopia. Outside the compound, in the daytime dust and the cold nights, are thousands of starving children who need food.


        There are masses of food in Ethiopia — half a million tons. A veritable mountain of grain has been shipped since December, and another is on the way. But it is not in the shelters in Makale. It sits in warehouses, miles away, or has been distributed elsewhere.

        One of the reasons for this catastrophic state of affairs is that there are not enough trucks. Some relief officials blame the donor countries for not being willing to provide trucks to move the grain they have given. Others blame the government and suggest famine relief has become a low priority for the ruling Marxists. Either way it is a new disaster for Ethiopia, and for the international community that has tried to help it.

        SPIN 7/13/2015: Live Aid: The Terrible Truth

        On the 30th anniversary of Live Aid, we’re republishing SPIN’s 1986 exposé on the so-called “global jukebox”

        One night at dinner in late 1985, a friend talked about Ethiopia being in a civil war. Neither I nor anyone else at the table had heard that. It hadn’t been covered in the American press. This was just six months after the Live Aid concerts in Philadelphia and London had directly and indirectly raised over $100 million dollars for famine relief in the African nation. The next day I asked my sister Nina, an assistant at SPIN then, to research this, because if the country was at war, it would surely be difficult to move aid around and get it to people who needed it.

        […] That evening she came into my office ashen faced — she had discovered it was clear, and very well evidenced, that this famine, the awful depictions of which had pulled on the world’s heartstrings, was man made, by government planes deliberately napalming rebel farms.


        I asked Bob Keating, a superb young investigative reporter who had just started working with us, to look into this for a story. The assignment was simple — all this money had been raised, where was it going, was it actually doing good?

        He discovered it was not doing good, but, horrifically, unimaginably, the exact opposite. The Ethiopian dictator, Mengistu, until then deadlocked in the war, was using the money the west gave him to buy sophisticated weapons from the Russians, and was now able to efficiently and viciously crush the opposition. Ethiopia, then the third poorest country in the world, suddenly had the largest, best equipped army on the African continent.


        A year ago, hundreds of thousands of tons of food rotted on the docks beside the Red Sea.

      • From the SPIN link:

        […] Live Aid concerts in Philadelphia and London had directly and indirectly raised over $100 million dollars for famine relief in the African nation.

        According to this calculator $100 million in 1985 would be worth $221 million today.

      • to AK on logistics …

        I believe it was immediately after the Kashmir earthquake (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2005_Kashmir_earthquake) I read about a US Navy official lamenting that if all the inexperienced, incompetent and inept help would get out of the way, the US Military could do a good job at short term relief since they were experienced, competent and had the tools and supplies necessary. It’s really a supply chain problem and lots of what the US military does is manage a large and complex (often ad hoc) supply chain.

        One example problem was a single lane road up a mountain carrying truck traffic on both directions with no coordination because no one was in charge.

        It takes more than dollars.

      • It takes more than dollars.

        That was kinda my point.

      • Steven Mosher

        Skeptics logic.
        If co2 goes up and yield goes down then co2 is not good for plants

      • Skeptics logic. […]

        Forget CO2. During the ’60’s and ’70’s the world was getting cooler, and the Sahel was drying out. Since the ’80’s the world’s been getting warmer and the Sahel’s been greening.

        What does that tell you? Simple: a warmer world is good for plants.

      • Steven Mosher | May 15, 2016 at 11:23 pm |
        Skeptics logic.
        If co2 goes up and yield goes down then co2 is not good for plants

        Since yields are going up, using skeptics logic, CO2 is good for plants.

        Study of soybean yields indicates the greatest increase is at the equator. I guess warmth is good for plants too.

    • Interesting that in this article and the inbedded link: http://www.nytimes.com/slideshow/2016/05/09/opinion/mass-famines-are-political/s/09dewaal-ss-10.html
      that the NY Times chose not to mention the famine in the Ukraine in the 30s, again brought on by forced collectivization of agriculture (is there a pattern here?) which was covered up/ignored by NY Times reporter Walter Duranty. Politics indeed.

    • Current grains are more drought and heat resistant than they used to be. Some of that is planned and some is the result of more CO2.

  4. David L. Hagen

    Shipping Efficiency</b?
    Historical trends in ship design efficiency

    Where is the reference to 1/3 fuel to goods?

    Capacity is defined as 70% of dead weight tonnage (DWT) for containerships
    and 100% of DWT for other ship types.
    Fig. 4 ~ 40 g CO2 / tonne- nm at 3.1144 g CO2/g fuel
    to ~ 13 g fuel / tonne – nm
    For 1000 nm trip 13 kg fuel/tonne
    for 10,000 nm trip ~ 130 kg fuel/tonne

  5. The US Is Badly Underinvesting in Electricity Infrastructure [link] …

    Perhaps a better approach is to invest in distributed CCGT, perhaps using Organic Rankine cycle (ORC) Technology:

    For the past 100 years across most of the world, consumers have received their electricity from large central power plants, which provide energy to the entire system from a single location via a network of transmission lines. This model, which relies heavily on fossil fuels, is facing an increasing number of challenges.

    The major initial efforts to reduce the environmental impact of power generation centered on fuel switching from coal to natural gas, with plans for massive centralized coal-fired power stations giving way to more efficient, less polluting, natural gas-fired power plants in the so-called “dash for gas,” changing the power mix from predominantly thermal coal-fired steam turbine plant to a more even split between coal and combined cycle gas turbines.


    The Advantages of Modularity

    Modularity can help enhance plant flexibility and reliability. By having multiple units, load can be shared across them, and units switched on and off to match the required load. This enables the power plant to operate efficiently over a much wider load range within the permitted emissions limits than a conventional CCGT can achieve. Future plant expansion is easy to achieve simply by adding one or more units whenever required, either at the same location or at a different tactical point in the power network, rather than having to build a new large power plant and associated transmission system. By distributing capacity in this way a ‘virtual generation’ benefit is also achieved via loss offset in the transmission network. The modular attributes also enable plant to be moved easily if market conditions change or the plant is sold. This reduces operational and financial risk which is beneficial for accessing finance at more favorable terms. Small gas turbines tend to come in pre-designed, pre-assembled standardized packages which have undergone significant levels of factory testing and require only a simple concrete foundation. This reduces the amount of planning, engineering, site installation and construction work required compared to a conventional power plant, enabling the power plant to be brought online faster, while still maintaining a competitive first cost, and reduces the risk of construction delays and associated contract penalties in addition to lost revenue. In addition, these packages can be supplied with weather-proof acoustic enclosures, eliminating the need for buildings. All the auxiliary systems required for turbine operation – including the control system – can be mounted either within the enclosure, adjacent to the enclosure or on the enclosure roof, minimizing the number of interconnections required.


    Combining multiple small gas turbines with ORC technology permits engineers to design a very load flexible power plant with optimal efficiency and emissions compliance across a wide load range. With no requirement for a water supply, such modular power plant potentially offer a simple way to meet the demands on the electricity grid caused by the large amounts of intermittent renewable power generation with high power plant reliability, availability and low maintenance in a cost-effective manner. By building such flexible distributed plant close to the actual load centers, investment in the power system infrastructure can also be reduced. [my bold]

    • Not everyone is embracing natural gas for power. Here in RI there is quite active opposition to the building of a gas fired plant in Burrillville in the northern part of the state. Also a lot of regional resistance to putting in another major pipeline or two to deliver (presumably, mid-Atlantic) shale gas to New England. Some of the resistance is standard NIMBY, but a lot is motivated by gas being seen as just another CO2 generating fossil fuel. As for approved and annointed renewable energy sources, Deepwater Wind,a 5 wind turbine “demonstration” project off Block Island, will collect ever increasing rates, starting at a base rate more than double what the market currently charges for renewable generated power (hydro). Rates will of necessity skyrocket, indeed. Apparently in RI it helps to “know a guy” to get such a sweet deal as an investor. As a consumer, not so much.

      • The bigger gas turbines are more efficient and more cost effective than smaller units; classic economies of scale. The bigger units are also mass produced. Claiming smaller units are a good value is simply not true.

      • The bigger gas turbines are more efficient and more cost effective than smaller units; classic economies of scale.

        Cost effective would depend on how much they add to the cost of the rest of the power plant, including bigger permitting process and longer delays.

        Efficiency is an interesting subject. As long as you compare two turbines running full-out, yes. (Although it’s not economies of scale but simply more modern technology. Smaller turbines, e.g. 10-40 MW, could be made just as efficient with similar technology development. AFAIK.)

        But the problem is that with all the fossil-neutral intermittent power, these plants spend a lot more time varying their output for load-matching. One point in the article is that with staggered start-ups/shutdowns of smaller units, the net efficiency can be kept higher.

        That’s for the gas turbine side, AFAIK the steam part takes longer. Here’s their claim for steam vs. ORC (the latter being new, undeployed technology AFAIK):

      • The bigger machines cost la lot less on a dollar per KW basis – fact, see recent Turbomachinery Handbook. The bigger machines are also much more efficient and retain high efficiency levels down to around 50 to 60 % load- see handbook. These machines are also designed to rapidly power up and follow the load. Economics clearly favor the big machines.

        The “modularity advantage” is pretty much of a myth promulgated by green energy folks with a doubtful grasp of the cost of energy production.

      • The bigger machines are also much more efficient and retain high efficiency levels down to around 50 to 60% load- see handbook. These machines are also designed to rapidly power up and follow the load. Economics clearly favor the big machines.

        Sorry, I’m highly skeptical. I’m sure there are on-line resources you can link to to back up your point. According to this the shiny new GE 7HA and 9HA CCGT systems feature:

        Quick start. Full plant load in less than 30 minutes from the start command.


        Ramp rate. Up to 60MW per minute ramp rate and turndown to less than 40% plant load while maintaining emissions guarantees and 60% efficiency down to 87% load.

        This doesn’t seem to me to match your “retain high efficiency levels down to around 50 to 60%” and “rapidly power up and follow the load.

        I’m certainly not an expert. But the authors of the linked article presumably are. I don’t see any signs of wide-eyed optimism in the magazine’s section on renewables.

        Their case seems plausible to me. I found a reference which gives some general costs for transmission:

        These would appear to be basic minimums:

        The terrain over which transmission companies build transmission lines also affects costs. It is more difficult to maneuver the equipment needed to build poles and string lines through mountainous terrain that is far from roads than it is to build transmission lines across relatively flat plains with nearby roads. Other factors also affect costs, including the cost to acquire rights-of-way, the cost of upgrading substations and interconnecting with the existing grid, and the possibility of installing new grid control technologies.

        The table notes address the higher transmission voltages of 500 kV and 765 kV, which are becoming more common in the United States. These are more expensive to install; costs range from $1 million per mile (or less in unusual, ideal circumstances) and higher. Sometimes these lines are unusually expensive. In a recent proposal to build 34 miles of 500 kV in California, the “per mile” cost of the project was $10 million.19

        Seems to me there’s simply a difference of opinion here between you and the authors. IMO they seem to have done their homework, although I’d prefer that they’d annotated their work.

      • The big machines (combined-cycle) lose about 5 to 10 percent efficiency when heading towards around 50 to 60 percent load. At say 55% efficiency at full load, still much better than smaller machines when at the lower load. At power, they can maneuver very quickly, with the Flex machines of vendors like GE also capable of coming on-line exceptionally quickly. These machines readily handle the requirements of the grid and do so in a cost effective fashion. The smaller machines are not particularly cost effective, having disproportionately too high of cost spread out over too small of an output.

        I possess a fair knowledge of the machines, having been heavily involved in building, starting up and managing plants using combustion turbines. Further, I invented (as in several patents) the hybrid-nuclear power plant, which is legions more efficient than combined-cycle plants from which the hybrid technology is derived.

        I have personally performed the technical and financial analyses associated with nearly all energy technologies. Yes, I am somewhat of an expert.

        The big machines are a better value for all, being more profitable and having lower production costs than smaller machines.

        I’ll be blunt you. AK you do not know what you are talking about.

      • The smaller machines are not particularly cost effective, having disproportionately too high of cost spread out over too small of an output. […] The big machines are a better value for all, being more profitable and having lower production costs than smaller machines.

        Perhaps in some cases. In others, the larger expense of new transmission facilities with big centralized plants probably makes the “smaller machines” a better deal when you factor in all the costs.

        Further, I invented (as in several patents) the hybrid-nuclear power plant, which is legions more efficient than combined-cycle plants from which the hybrid technology is derived.

        Yeah, an invention that nobody wants to invest in. A “hybrid” technology with all the political disadvantages of both fossil and nuclear, also dependent on proliferating overhead transmission (’cause nobody’s going to pay 4x for underground).

        But I do have to credit you for thinking out of the box. Even if you’ve left through the wrong side (IMO).

        I have personally performed the technical and financial analyses associated with nearly all energy technologies. Yes, I am somewhat of an expert.

        Yeah, a 40 year veteran of the power industry with extensive and wide-ranging management, business, operations, design, engineering and technical expertise. Question is: 40 years experience? Or 1 year repeated 40 times?

        I’ll be blunt you. AK you do not know what you are talking about.

        And neither do the authors of the article I linked, I suppose. Things are changing, and anybody who won’t change with them will be left behind.

        I’ll be blunt with you kellermfk, your constant put-downs of anything beyond your own little hobby-horse suggests your own “knowledge” is decades out of date.

    • i’m going to wait until planning engineer weighs in on this.

      Claiming that small units without the economy of scale are cheaper is pretty bold.

      • Don’t forget mass production can make things cheaper too.

        Economies of scale tend to work only on apples-to-apples comparisons. Comparing a custom-built power plant to a mass-produced, drop-in unit with most of the testing already done at the factory (on a production line) is pretty much apples-to-oranges.

      • Newsflash. Large CCGT are NOT custom built. They are built just like their cousins jet engines, in factories, shipped RTG un unit sizes now from 500 to about 800 MW.

      • http://www.gas-turbines.com/trader/kwprice.htm

        GE 9281F 217,870 kW $183.14/kW
        GE LM2500 22,216 kW $427.62/kW

        And what does land in urban areas cost anyway (relative to the boonies)?

      • Large CCGT are NOT custom built.

        What about the whole power plants?

      • GE 9281F 217,870 kW $183.14/kW
        GE LM2500 22,216 kW $427.62/kW

        I think the comparison they’re talking about is more an F-Class with H-Class.

        Or perhaps the small modular side would be:
        GE LM6000PA 41,020 kW $294.98/kW

        Given that total CCGT plant costs are usually around $600/kW (at best), it seems plausible that the savings from modularity (and transmission) could make up for the higher unit price.

        Not to mention that a substantial strategic change in turbine size would probably bring down the price due to economies of scale on the mass-production side.

        And what does land in urban areas cost anyway (relative to the boonies)?

        Not land costs, the permitting process. Not to mention shorter transmission (often little or no new transmission needed).

      • It’s more than that. It’s just plain not true.

      • It’s more than that. It’s just plain not true.

        Matter of opinion. Or rather, it’s a matter of framing, and a matter of opinion which frame is appropriate.

    • dougbadgero

      I am skeptical of distributed generation. I worry that the regulation of millions of effluent streams is a practical impossibility.

    • I am going with the network generation approach. Probably the answer for more supply instability. Seems more resilient. Centralized production emphasizes heavy transportation costs with higher reliance on arterial structures.
      I think AK is saying a 41 MW unit may be viable. Now look at who may buy one of those? Perhaps a small town. A large plant. Large utilities may face problems that are solved by ratepayers giving them more more money. Perhaps increasing their options with some smaller producers would help.

      • I think AK is saying a 41 MW unit may be viable. Now look at who may buy one of those? Perhaps a small town. […]

        I just found and read a document you may find interesting.

        It’s a comparison between simple-cycle and CCGT for a peaking power plant in Anaheim, California (went live 3/2012). The original plan was 4 simple-cycle gas turbines (~50MW), the report recommended dropping it to 3 and adding “once-through steam generation, or OTSG”.

        Evidently they decided to go with the original plan.

      • I read it, and I see that gas turbines are as small as 5 MW. I understand the low end of the size scale is going to have some overhead to deal with cost wise. Small turbines might be located near loads. Being used during peak demand to take specific loads off the grid. The rest of the time the large generators would supply the specific loads. With all the efficiency numbers, transmission losses should be considered. The response time of the gas turbines would also seem to make the base load generators more efficient. Finding good fit demand locations for smaller gas turbines is an area I think that we will see more of.

    • AK besides being an insulting jerk, what are your credentials? I advocate low-cost power which the large gas turbines clearly are. The hybrid may or may not make it into the market place. But the technology does not require massive government subsidies while transferring wealth from the poor and middle class to the green energy liars and cheats.

      • AK besides being an insulting jerk, […]

        What goes around comes around.

        [… W]hat are your credentials?

        Credentials? I don’t need no steenkin’ credentials.

        Seriously. I expect people to take my ideas on their own merits, not believe something I say because I have “credentials”. Look at Michael Mann’s “credentials”. Does that mean he has anything useful to contribute.?

        In this case, I actually linked to an article by people who presumably have “credentials” (considering the venue), and simply suggested some implications if their ideas are valid.

        I advocate low-cost power which the large gas turbines clearly are.

        In figuring the cost of this “low-cost power” have you allowed for building extra transmission facilities? The permitting and delay while “environmentalists” take turns pot-shotting it? The risk that, partly through the construction process, the whole thing will be shut down due to some new, innovative way of blocking transmission lines?

        The hybrid may or may not make it into the market place.

        Quite true. And as long as it’s hanging fire waiting for somebody to put their money up, your “invention” offers no “credentials” to validate your opinions.

        But the technology does not require massive government subsidies while transferring wealth from the poor and middle class to the green energy liars and cheats.

        Well, that could be said about any technology. What if you were offered a big government subsidy? Would you turn it down?

  6. The parallels between economics and climatology to be drawn from the problems of ‘mathiness’ are enlightening.

    In 2009, the Nobel Laureate Paul Krugman tried to explain it in The New York Times with a version of the mathiness diagnosis. ‘As I see it,’ he wrote, ‘the economics profession went astray because economists, as a group, mistook beauty, clad in impressive-looking mathematics, for truth.’

  7. Can we save the algae biofuel industry? [link]

    Joule Unlimited seems to be doing OK. They’ve just completed a major regulatory hurdle milestone.

    From the original article:

    The diversity of these products may be the key to finally developing algal biofuels. Many are high-value chemicals, selling for a much higher price than biofuels. So by combining them with biodiesel production, we could subsidise the price of the fuel and offset the high costs of algal cultivation.

    This concept, known as a “biorefinery”, is part of a new wave of algae research that aims to overcome the issues of the past decade or so. We already know that oil refineries produce plastics, fibres and lubricants as well as fuels. Now we are hoping to develop algal biorefineries in exactly the same way.

    Perhaps if they understood Wright’s Law better they’d understand that “the algae biofuel industry” isn’t in as much trouble as they think. Times are slow, especially for the less innovative players, but their production costs (at least the better players) will come down as they gain experience.

    Of course, if somebody does want to speed the process up, they could require a certain fraction of fuels burned for energy to come from totally “green” sources. Leave the playing field open by allowing any type, and the best combinations of player and technology will still come out at the front.

    10 years from now, with proper policies (especially the right schedule of “green” fraction requirements), the cost of fossil-neutral fuels would be competitive with fossil on their own, with little cost to energy consumers.

    • AK: Joule Unlimited seems to be doing OK.

      Thank you for the link. They only claim to be moving toward commercialization.

      • Well, so early in the learning curve, does it make sense to panic about “sav[ing] the algae biofuel industry?

      • AK: Well, so early in the learning curve, does it make sense to panic about “sav[ing] the algae biofuel industry?”

        Good question. If the whole field is losing money, if the best player anticipates its first profit at least 10 years from now, and if the boosters are actively rent-seeking, it is a question worth thinking about. I think it is one of those enterprises where you warn the investors that they better be able to afford a total loss of their investment.

      • I think it is one of those enterprises where you warn the investors that they better be able to afford a total loss of their investment.

        Isn’t it all still in venture capital stage? Any “venture capitalist” who needs a warning like that deserves to go bankrupt.

        Well, after more research, no. A fair batch of 1st -gen operations are somewhere in the IPO process. I’m conflicted here. IMO anybody who buys into an IPO without knowing that in advance also deserves to lose their money.

        OTOH, there are regulations, and I suppose there’s some logic behind requiring them to be followed once investors are trusting in them. But shouldn’t any investor be aware of the risks of investing in any company that depends on rent-seeking? It (investing) isn’t a free ride.

      • http://www.xconomy.com/boston/2015/05/11/with-200m-raised-joule-still-pushing-biofuels-production-facility/?utm_source=related-content&utm_medium=media&utm_campaign=related-content
        Joule said its plants only will need non-potable water, carbon dioxide that can be the waste gas from a power plant, factory, or refinery, and steady sunlight.

        At full-scale commercialization, Joule believes a 1,000-acre installation in an ideal setting could produce about 15,000 gallons per acre, or 357 barrels, of “solar diesel” per year.

        Ok, math time here. Texas uses about 55.8 million gallons a day of liquid fuels. Joule produces 15,000 gallons per acre a year or 15 million gallons on 4 sq. km. 5431.2 sq. km. or roughly 1% of the Texas land area required to produce the needed Texas fuel. That’s 103 gallons per hectare per day… About 68.5% efficiency, sweet, if he can do it. Going to need to build a lot of power plants to generate his CO2 input though. Going to need a lot of “non-potable” water too.

  8. The US Is Badly Underinvesting in Electricity Infrastructure

    Isn’t the US badly underinvesting in all economically productive infrastructure, except maybe fossil fuel extraction?

  9. How economists rod maths to become our era’s astrologers [link]

    That’s a fun essay, for people like me who request/insist-upon decades of predictive accuracy calculations (integrated mean square error, for example). I examine my “portfolio” about every 5 years, and select the mutual funds that lost the least in the last few financial panics. I can’t recommend this because I have not calculated whether in the last few decades my “portfolio” has outperformed pure index funds, but at least it downweights the short-termers. Now and then you run across someone who thinks that financial panics will never occur again because there is modern “risk management” or other “information processing” available.

    I think the stem is supposed to be “road maths”, not “rod maths”..

    For the last 32 years I have consistently predicted (or at least bet, via 3, 5, and 7 year ARMs) that mortgage interest rates would decline over the term of the mortgage. So far, I have always been right. But, as everyone knows, “So far I have always been right” has led a lot of people into bankruptcy. Maybe this time all the people advising me that mortgage interest rates have bottomed out at historic lows will be right.

    Meanwhile, the more complicated your model, the less reliable are the parameter estimates and predictions made from them.

    Back to climate science: right now there are lots of models of the future. In future we shall be able to compare their forecasts to data and evaluate whether any of them have been close enough, or better than others, with regard to our favorite criteria. Right now, not a one has a track record of successfully predicting future weather statistics (mean, variances, etc).

  10. David L. Hagen

    How fast is Concentrating Solar becoming economic?
    How Solar + Storage Can Be Cheaper Than Coal

    the DMS CSP technology can, at a scale of 50MW with 14-hour energy storage, deliver electricity prices of 9.3-12.2 US¢/kWh – a cost “already below today ́s average cost of fossil power generation.” . . .
    the larger the plant’s capacity, the lower the cost of electricity falls. So a 100MW DMS plant with around 15 hours storage could deliver electricity price levels of 6.4-8.5 US¢/kWh – “lower even than (new) coal,” the paper says

    • David Wojick

      I think those numbers are much higher than the production cost of coal fired power. They look more like retail residential electric rates.

    • Peter Lang

      David L Hagen,

      You can immediately dismiss anything published in RenewEconomy as extremist RE advocacy, propaganda and disinformation. Follow Giles Parkinson for a while and you’ll understand why.

    • David L. Hagen,

      That’s wonderful news!

      Since PV is now cheaper than coal or natural gas, we can do away with all the subsidies for PV and let the world beat a pathway to the door of this better mousetrap.

  11. Carbon-offset deal seen costing airlines passengers up to $6.2 billion in 2025

    • David Wojick

      Up to $25 billion a year ten years later. But the people who would get all that money favor the plan.

  12. Carbon-offset deal would cost airlines $6.2 billion in 2025: IATA

    In 2015, nearly 3.6 billion passengers were carried by the world’s airlines.

    Very roughly speaking, that’s about $2 per today’s passenger. What didn’t make it into the headline was that the number grows (caution: projection!) …

    By 2035, the deal would cost airlines up to an estimated $24 billion, as air traffic grows, according to figures from the Montreal-based International Civil Aviation Organization, or ICAO.
    … which is less than $7 per today’s passenger. Not zero but not crushing. The real lesson here is not to pay much attention to headlines that aggregate small costs into HEADLINE $BILLIONS.

    • David Wojick

      $24 billion or more a year for no reason is a lot of money wasted.

    • So, the warm want an “offset” price that would have no impact on the amount of air travel. But they claim we must do this in order to reduce air travel (and emissions – nobody has invented a solar powered jumbo jet).
      So we get a tax hike that doesn’t reduce emissions, but does funnel lots of money into the government.
      And you wonder why people object.

  13. Peter Lang

    Michael Schellenberg has just published an excellent explanation of why nuclear power is so expensive. (H/T Glenn Stehle) why-environmentalists-changed-their-mind-on-nuclear


    “Utilities that own nuclear power plants are in serious financial trouble. While it is tempting to blame low natural gas prices and misplaced post-Fukushima jitters, nuclear’s troubles are rooted in regulatory capture — a capture that finds its genesis in the origins of the U.S. environmental movement. This capture is now threatening to bring this climate-friendly energy source to the brink.

    Consider that in the U.S., utilities have either closed or announced premature closures of seven plants in three years. At least eight more are at risk of early closure in the next two years. In 2011, Germany announced it would close all of its nuclear plants. Swedish utility Vattenfall announced late last year that it would be forced to close several reactors prematurely.

    Everywhere the underlying reason is the same: anti-nuclear forces, in tandem with rent-seeking economic interests, have captured government policies. On one extreme lies Germany, which decided to speed up the closure of its nuclear plants following Fukushima. In Sweden the government imposed a special tax on nuclear. In the U.S., solar and wind receive 140 and 17 times higher levels of subsidy than nuclear. And states across the nation have enacted Renewable Portfolio Standards, RPS, that mandate rising wind and solar, and that exclude nuclear.”
    Continue … http://epillinois.org/news/2016/5/1/why-environmentalists-changed-their-mind-on-nuclear

    Glenn Stehle’s better chart of (some of the) US Federal subsidies for electricity technologies (not included are state, local subsidies and cost transfers to other technologies and consumers):

    • Peter Lang

      Glenn Stehle,

      Could you please post the chart with the revised spelling of “watt”. Better still, could you substitute the revised chart fotr the existing chart and use the same address so the chart is updated wherever a link has been posted to it?

  14. Re all those dud predictions on famine, ZPG etc, it’s easy to see why intellectuals WERE always wrong. The trick is to see why intellectuals, as they fiddle and adjust their opinions, ARE wrong.

    For example, having at last noticed that prosperous societies dominated by a middle class have far fewer children, our intellectuals are now working on the best “mechanisms” for population replacement in the West. Needless to say, quite a few eggs will have to be broken to make their multiculti population omelettes.

    It’s a new slant on Publish or Perish. Intellectuals publish, we perish.

  15. David L. Hagen

    Dubai bidding driving down Mideast solar PV prices
    Who is driving down PV prices any why?
    The Price of solar just fell 50% in 16 months. Dubai at $0.0299 /kWh

    because the majority of the expenses for a solar power plant lie in the upfront cost of construction, which gets recovered over numerous years, the cost of financing is a key overall cost driver. One can suspect that Masdar had access to long-term financing through the wealthy emirate of Abu Dhabi that no commercial banks, the primary source of capital for the other bidders, could match in cost.

    • Peter Lang

      One can suspect that Masdar had access to long-term financing through the wealthy emirate of Abu Dhabi

      I.e., it’s not a commercial transaction and is therefore irrelevant, other than for propaganda value by the RE advocates.

      • David L. Hagen

        Peter – It is still officially a public commercial transaction through formal international bidding process. I think the question is whether it has commercial financing backing it or what rate of return is provided.

      • Peter Lang

        David L Hagen,

        If we all the relevant costs are not visible and commercial, then quoting $0.0299 /kWh is highly misleading. It’s another example of people quoting prices for solar without acknowledging the effect of subsidies and other incentives for it. Highly misleading.

    • Steven Mosher

      One can suspect?
      Too funny.
      Great argument;!

  16. “climate displaced person”
    There has to be, hidden somewhere, a secret alien cabal that makes up terms like this.
    No life form, born of Gaia, could be so demented as to birth such rubbish.

    • Despite Ehrlich ‘n Holdren doomsday predictions of the
      1960’s,says Michael Bastasch article, ‘human ingenuity
      bailed us out.’ Yes, ‘human ingenuity riding on Ol’ King
      Coal cheap and efficient energy.

      Since the 20th century, famine in the western world
      resulting from climate variability has become a thing of
      the past. The West’s development of the steam engine as
      well as other revolutions in technology and the ingenuity
      applied ter daily work on the farm, has enabled food
      production to keep pace with population growth. The
      last European famine due ter climate was in 1866-68 in
      Finland and Northern Sweden.

      Food shortages in the West since then have been the
      result of political decisions, events of war, of bombing and
      blockades, fer example, the British blockade of Germany
      in 1916-1917 and the German blockade of Leningrad in
      1941. In China, in the process of industrialization, Mao
      Zedong’s ambitious ‘Great Leap Forward’ was also a
      policy decision that resulted in food shortages. .
      (bts 2nd edit’n Serf under -ground Journal.)

      • The Swedish government (eyeroll) is spending billions of kronor to develop a “climate smart” diet. Of course, it involves “accepting” worms and insects as the new protein source.

        It’s what you’d expect of a nation whose cultural elites are well known for retailing gloom, pessimism and alienation as dominant themes in art and thought.

        But you’d think they’d have the sense to ask their new Middle Eastern and African compatriots about the hundreds of ways to use traditional, cheap and abundant foodstuffs which might save a few cow burps, nourish the body and delight the senses. (Not that I’d care about the cow burps.)

        But no! There’s no fun in being a cultural elite in Sweden without imposing gloom, pessimism, alienation…and making ordinary punters eat worms. The climate beat-up is made for these sad sacks.

      • Say mimoso, let – them – eat – dirt!
        Back ter the dark ages, a re-post …

        ‘ The rustling of cardinals’ silk
        in the corridors of power,
        the far-flung authority of power
        and especially indulgences
        penned by industrious scribes
        inside the stone-walled,
        (glass-walled) hive, while
        on the slopes outside,
        peasants scrabble
        fer scraps from
        the priests’ table, say,
        let them eat crickets!
        Er would you mind passing the caviar?

        Serf eye -roll.

      • Oops, regard’n Swedish pessimism ‘n alienation yer
        might say a diet of wild strawberries.

        H/t Ingmar Bergman.

  17. Here’s a new one I haven’t heard before:

    Climate Change Is Shrinking Earth’s Far-Flying Birds

  18. EU subsidies for renewables during 2008-14 cost $106 billion.
    – UK subsidies were $14.3 billion and residential electricity prices increased 133%.
    – Germany subsidies were $29 billion and residential electricity prices increased 78%.
    – Spain subsidies were $11.1 billion and residential electricity prices increased 111%.

    In 2016 alone, German residential customers will pay renewable-energy surcharges of some $29 billion for electricity that, on the electricity market, is worth only about $4 billion.

    US is planning to go down a similar path:

  19. Air pollution in India article: Does anyone else see the ludicrousness of that study? The study is fundamentally flawed in at least three different and immediately apparent ways (the article admits that much at least) each resulting in grossly inflated numbers and costs, and yet:

    “Our estimates on premature mortalities, economic loss and life lost years provides important information to elective members and policy makers to propose or impose emission controls to benefit reduced public health risk due to exposure to outdoor air pollution”


    • Peter Lang

      Fatalities per TWh from air pollution from electricity generation by coal in India:

      Fatalities per TWh attributable to PM 2.5, SO2, NOx from coal fired power stations in India (All plants 2008) (does not include accident fatality rates):

      State Owned = 103
      Centre Owned = 95
      Privately owned = 82
      (Ref. Table 8)

      Average for India is 99 fatalities/TWh (Ref. Table 7)

      Cropper, M., Gamkhar, S,. Malik, K., Limonov, A., Partridge, I., 2012. The Health Effects of Coal Electricity Generation in India. Resources for the Future

      c.f. Total fatalities per TWh from all sources on an LCA basis in: EU = 28, US = 15, China = 77

    • philipcolet,

      It is important to separate the CO2 issue from the issue of air pollution.

      They are two different issues. Nevertheless, one of the climatariat’s main talking points is to conflate the two.

      Who wants to breathe this?

      L.A. Civic Center masked by smog on January 6, 1948. Courtesy of UCLA Library Special Collections – Los Angeles Times Photographic Archive.

      I would venture to say that the main reason the plaintiffs in the tobacco suits prevailed was that people don’t like to breathe second hand smoke, and not the fact that smoking causes cancer and other health problems.

      • • With air pollution, the effects are palpable and in the here and now, and not prophesied effects 50 or 100 years in the future.

        • With air pollution the problems are local, so it is far easier to do something about it.

        Listen up Beijing. This is what you can learn from Los Angeles about fighting smog

        But as JC is fond of saying, there are two types of problems: “tame” problems and “wicked” problems.

        Smog and air pollution are much tamer problems than global warming.

      • Here’s how the climatariat and its allies in the corporate media conflate smog and pollution with climate change. They do it by subtly juxtaposing written messages about global warming next to powerful images of smog and pollution.

        Here’s one recent example:

        And another:

      • Oh don’t worry, I do distinguish between CO2 and real pollution:
        Negative effects from CO2: Completely imaginary and projected 200 years into the future
        Negative effects from actual pollutants: Real, current, but grossly exaggerated.
        Just look at the numbers they give in the article. They say that premature deaths from pollution cost 640 billion dollars in India (35% of GDP) for half million deaths per year. This is 1.28million$ per premature death IN INDIA. The GDP per capita of India is 1500$, so 850 years of GDP-person per premature death. You get the picture.
        Unlike negative effects from CO2, the effects from acutal pollutants can be measured and quantified, but, once again, alarmism triumphs by incorporating fundamental flaws in the study, grossly exaggerating threat and costs, all to produce headlines and push policy.

      • philipcolet,

        I wholeheartedly agree.

    • David Springer

      China has become far more polluted due to rapid industrialization. Air, ground, and water.

      For those who think that pollution reduces lifespan they need to explain this:

      Pollution is a side-effect of industrialization. The net benefit is still positive despite the downsides of environmental pollution.

      • Springer, didn’t you get the memo?

        Any sort of honest, unbiased cost-benefit analyses is a definite no no.

      • David L. Hagen

        Beware central socialist planning
        China’s Great Famine caused by Mao’s “Great Leap Forward” socialist / communist policies caused upwards of 30 million to starve to death with overall deaths due to Mao estimated at up to 65 million.

      • ==> For those who think that pollution reduces lifespan they need to explain this:

        Tell the truth. Do you really not see the glaring fallacies?

        Just a couple:

        Industrialization can take place with more or less pollution.

        There are factors that have significant impact on life expectancy that are only indirectly a function of industrialization…say the use of antibiotics, better medical practices (e.g., reducing child mortality), better healthcare access, more education, more political empowerment, etc. Consider, simply, the impact of vaccinations

        “…the unit increase in life expectancy per unit increase in GDP decreases as GDP per capita increases.”

        Here, let’s try some of your logic:

        Looking at the graph you posted, much more of the gains in life-expectancy took place in the 8 years from 1962-1970 than took place during the 42 subsequent years. Does that mean that the growth in industrialization during those 8 years was proportionately that much greater than during the subsequent 42 years?

      • According to the graph you linked, post 1972, say, growth in life expectancy in China pretty much tracks with growth in life expectancy the U.S..

        Does that mean that since 1970, the growth rate of industrialization in China tracked with the growth rate of industrialization in the U.S.?

      • Classic misunderstanding of the difference between causation and correlation.

      • Only thing classic Josh is your failure to understand the topic you are commenting on.

  20. Love that piece of history in “The new astrology”

  21. The SUN is at the very top of the energy chain in the solar system.

    Here is a link to the proof-reader’s copy of the article onSolar energy” published yesterday in the International Journal of Education & Research


    Comments, criticisms or corrections will be appreciated.

    Oliver K. Manuel

  22. This is my second submission. As Glenn calls them the climatariat, I was this morning, reading the headlines on CNN, the 3rd headline reads: 2016 to be hottest year yet as April smashes records, with all manner of catastrophic weather messages stating the world increase was 1.11 c. Getting us only .89 c away from the trip wire of 2 C. … the link: http://www.cnn.com/2016/05/16/world/climate-change-april-hottest-month/index.html

    My query is I suppose, why all of the continual provacative language when simply stating things in straight-forward scientific language would suffice?

    • Some interesting statistics there on how they can already project 2016 after April. Worth looking at.

    • They are getting their licks in while they still have at least some credibility. They are getting concerned that this might not be a record year.

      It would take a powerful La Nina to stop this from being a record year. And it looks like it might be coming.

    • Gavin Schmidt’s tweet in that article.


      • Well, a clear test of whether Schmidt is good at math.

        From what I can tell, without record “adjustment” [snicker] the odds are 50/50.

        If it isn’t a record year, the skeptics can have fun next year reminding people that there is a 99% chance that Schmidt doesn’t know what he is talking about.

  23. The remainder of the topics on CNN this morning include the following headlines: 2015 was the warmest year since 1880, We need a price on carbon, Climite change will make flights longer, The town that stood up to coal, 2 degrees celsius-a critical number, climate change is killing our sex drive, Obama-nothing will deter us; Oceans food chain could collapse….Each article or op-ed is essentially the same, little to no support in terms of actual fact or refrences for ‘studies’ but loads of predictions and hedged future…’fact’.

  24. On a just completed trip to Morris, MN I observed this:
    I wish them luck in bringing this to a commercial success. Ammonia is big in Western Minnesota. A quite popular fertilizer. And it’s windy there.

  25. Peter Lang

    Glenn Stehle,

    I’d be interested in your comments on “Why carbon pricing will not succeedhttp://anglejournal.com/article/2015-11-why-carbon-pricing-will-not-succeed/
    This chart tells the main message:

    All carbon pricing scenarios produce a negative projected net-benefit for this century. Source: Derived from DICE-2013R model

    Although this is about carbon pricing, I suggest the main points apply to all policies that would raise the cost of energy. If carbon pricing is the cheapest way to reduce emissions, as is often stated by alarmists, any other ‘command and control’ policy that would raise the cost of energy would be more expensive and, therefore, cause even greater negative net-benefits than reported in this paper.

      • Peter Lang

        I posted this in the wrong place. If you respond to this, could you please reply to my comment with the chart, so I will get notified by WordPresss of your reply.

        Hi Glenn,

        You didn’t provide any in-depth comments on the paper “Why carbon pricing will not succeed”. I posted on the Energy Policy thread (the appropriate place for policy for discussion of this). I was hoping you might consider it in depth, perhaps even check that you can reproduce my results, consider the assumptions and what I said about the default key inputs in DICE-2013R leaning on the alarmists’ side of the ‘consensus’ central estimates.

        I’d like to see versions of my chart (20 2100) with these inputs:
        ECS = 2.5, 2. 1.75, 1.5
        RCP6 and RCP4.5
        ‘Damage Function’ run with justifiable, defensible central estimates
        Realistic, defensible Participation rates
        Discount rates (appropriate for a century and justifiable on the basis of long term historic discount rate that are actually used for infrastructure investment decisions)?

        Can you run the GAMS version of the DICE-2013R model and run optimisation http://www.econ.yale.edu/~nordhaus/homepage/ ?

      • Peter Lang said:

        Can you run the GAMS version of the DICE-2013R model and run optimisation

        I recall you aking me that once before, and I went and took a look at Nordhaus’ webpage. It looked to me like there’s a $1,000 charge to download the model, so that’s about as far as I got, as I was not willing to spring for that amount.

      • Peter Lang

        I haven’t tried to download GAMS and didn’t know that. I used the Excel version which is free and can be downloaded from the the Nordhaus homepage link above. The changes I made to the participation rate can be done without needing to run the optimisation. But I don’t know if the other changes of inputs can be made without running the optimisation. Running optimisation is beyond my capabilities.

        However, even if you don’t want spend time on analysis, I’d still appreciate a serious review and comment of the points I’ve made in the paper.

    • Their argument is based on assumptions that are appropriate for a theoretical exercise but carbon pricing is unlikely to be achieved in practice….

      Given the existing political realities, I’d say the chances of carbon taxes being implemented globally are damned near nonexistant.

      A deregulated energy market would stimulate innovation and lead to an accelerating adoption of low emissions energy sources, without the need for onerous and unattainable international agreements on carbon pricing.

      Given the existing political realities, I’d say the chances of a deregulated energy market being implemented are damned near nonexistent too. Has a deregluated energy market ever existed at any time or place in any industrial society? I can’t recall one. Regulation seems to be the nature of the beast. The state just can’t keep its hands off.

      Uncertainty about the impacts and extent of man-made climate change is inevitable and unavoidable….

      I agree, but Naomi Oreskes and her ilk I’m sure would beg to disagree. She believes the science is settled and is most certain of own opinions.

      …but uncertainty surrounding the chosen solution is inexcusable.

      The “chose solution” will depend on future technological innovations, which are unpredictable. I hear a lot of rumblings about potential breakthroughs and innovations in nuclear, for instance.

      The advocates of wind and solar are quite certain of their claims about the viability of their “chosen solution.” But their claims, when subjected to the acid test, have repeatedly been proven to be untrue. The track record of proven, demonstrated performance is not that great.

      We should be confident that proposed solutions are going to be effective, and the more expensive the solution, the more confident we should be.

      The advocates of wind and solar are certainly confident, and cost doesn’t even appear to be on their radar.

      Peter, I have to go out. I will continue later.

    • In short, big responses require high levels of confidence that they will work. There seems to be a lack of credible evidence to demonstrate carbon pricing passes this test.

      Like you say, “carbon pricing is unlikely to be achieved in practice.” Hypothetical assumptions, such as the notion that carbon pricing can be achieved in practice, yield hypothetical predictions. If we only lived in a perfect world!

      The report implies the net economic costs might be negligible, but this assumption is at odds with current research.

      The reports of the climatariat always imply that. But when the rubber hits the road, things never turn out as promised. The track record of wind and solar is dismal.

      …greenhouse gas (GHG) abatement is likely to cost more than the benefits of reduced climate damages this century, carbon pricing cannot succeed unless it is global, and global carbon pricing is unlikely to be implemented and sustained. Finally, I suggest that policy-makers need to focus on alternatives to carbon pricing.


      But the only alternatives that will work will have to be cost competitive with fossil fuels. If they are not genuinely cost competitive with fossil fuels, they will never be implemented on a global scale. This is an inescapable political reality.

      The Copenhagen scenario, assumes increasing participation from 2010 levels to reach 100% in 2100, while the 1/2 Copenhagen scenario, assumes half the Copenhagen participation level throughout.

      The Copenhagen scenario is Utopian dreaming. The 1/2 Copenhagen scenario is more realistic.

      When we compare the different carbon pricing scenarios, it becomes evident that they all have negative projected net-benefit for nearly all of this century. In other words, the cost of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by carbon pricing outweigh the benefits in terms of reduced climate damages for the foreseeable future….

      Under the Copenhagen scenario, 75% of the costs of reducing emissions would be borne this century, but we would only see 17% of the hypothesized benefits. The accumulated net-benefit for the 1/2 Copenhagen scenario is negative to beyond the year 2300.

      This is the main reason why carbon pricing doesn’t have a snowball’s change in hell of being enacted globally.

      It is a very human reaction to give more weight to the near future than the distant future. For this reason, it becomes politically difficult to justify benefits far in the future when the costs have to be paid now, resulting in enormous political pressure to reject such an arrangement.

      Difficult? I’d say impossible is more like it.

      This means that all countries implement the scheme in unison in 2015….

      When donkeys fly!

      Hence, without global implementation, the cost of carbon pricing would be prohibitive for participants. Moreover, non-participants incur no costs and thus gain a competitive advantage.

      It’s called the tragedy of the commons, and to overcome it on a local scale is difficult, and on a global scale it has never been done before. I’m pessimistic that it can be done.

      Arguably, the assumptions that underpin the economic analyses used to justify carbon pricing are appropriate for a theoretical modelling exercise but unrealistic, impractical and unlikely to be achieved in the real world.

      I wholeheartedly agree.

      • Peter Lang

        Thanks Glenn,

        But the only alternatives that will work will have to be cost competitive with fossil fuels. If they are not genuinely cost competitive with fossil fuels, they will never be implemented on a global scale. This is an inescapable political reality.

        That’s what I’ve been arguing for 25 years – since I was involved in policy analysis of Australia’s position to present at the 1992 Rio Earth Summit.

  26. If, for example, the USA (and the International Atomic Energy Agency) removed impediments to expanded nuclear power, in my opinion the cost of electricity generated by nuclear power could be reduced substantially by 2050[iii]9-10 to potentially below the cost of fossil fuel generated electricity.

    I predict that fossil fuels are only going to get scarcer and more expensive. I have no knowledge and no opinion on what the future might hold for nuclear, cost wise.

    Politics wise, though, have you ever had any firsthand dealings with anti-nukes?

    I have a friend whose husband is a retired nuclear scientist. They are from Los Alamos, New Mexico, but have a second home in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico.

    The two of us were active in a left-wing political group in San Miguel that hosted a conference a year or so ago, and some of the anti-nukes came down from New York to participate.

    After the conference the organizers of the conference set up a Google discussion group.

    Well anyway, my friend argued on the discussion group thread that the anti-nukes had greatly overblown the risks of nuclear power generation.

    Well BOOM! You would have thought she was advocating child rape. You would not believe the hail of abuse they heaped on her, and on me when I defended her (not for what she was saying, but for her right to say it). And their attacks had nothing to do with facts or reason. These people don’t do facts or reason. It’s all personal, highly abusive, ad hominem attacks (a la David Springer, except they are political pros and therefore not so inept at it.)

    My friend had no experience in politics, so was totally unprepared for this. After a small dose of this, she folded her hand and withdrew from the discussion group. Her husband, being the typical scientist, was as useless as the teats on a bore hog in this political fight. He offered her no emotional or intellectual support whatsoever.

    I had been involved in grassroots politics in San Antonio for a number of years, so was better prepared than my friend. But even then, I don’t think I have ever encountered anyone as fanatical and remote from reality as the anti-nukes. They make even folks like John Hagee and Ralph Reed seem milquetoast.

    So this is what you’re up against, and what you need to be prepared for if you go up against these folks. They play dirty, and they go for the juglar.

    I think I still have the emails from the discussion group if you would like to see them. It will give you an idea what to expect, what you’re up against, and what to prepare yourself for if you want to fight this battle.

  27. Interesting Article @ Marketwatch:


    In Part:

    The Paris climate agreement includes a pledge to keep warming “well below two degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.” Furthermore, at the request of the world’s most vulnerable countries, language was added promising “to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5 degrees.”

    The trouble is that these aspirations are not matched by the commitments called for by the treaty. Instead, the agreement’s system of voluntary mitigation pledges will allow global emissions to rise until 2030, likely leading to a warming of 3-3.5 degrees by 2100. This looks like a prime example of inconsistency in policy making.

    The problem lies, first and foremost, with the goals spelled out in the agreement. Targets like limiting warming to 1.5 degrees or 2 degrees cannot effectively guide policy makers and the public. They address the whole Earth system, not individual actors or governments. By failing to state explicitly what individual countries are required to deliver, it allows leaders to support targets that seem ambitious, while pursuing mitigation efforts that are in reality insignificant.

    No scientific formula can describe how to share the burden of global mitigation equitably among countries, leaving every government able to declare confidently that its policies are in line with any given temperature target. An evaluation of whether the goals are being attained can be carried out only on a global level, and thus no country can be held responsible if the target is missed. As a result, every UN climate summit concludes with expressions of grave concern that the overall efforts are inadequate.

    • David Wojick

      How is this interesting? The agreement is a joke.

    • Peter Lang


      The problem lies, first and foremost, with the goals spelled out in the agreement. Targets like limiting warming to 1.5 degrees or 2 degrees cannot effectively guide policy makers and the public. They address the whole Earth system, not individual actors or governments. By failing to state explicitly what individual countries are required to deliver, it allows leaders to support targets that seem ambitious, while pursuing mitigation efforts that are in reality insignificant.

      Targets and timetables and top-down command and control policies will not succeed. They are nonsense. The whole world has to participate fully or nothing will be achieved. And the world will not participate unless every nation can see the benefits for itself. This explains why: http://anglejournal.com/article/2015-11-why-carbon-pricing-will-not-succeed/

      The only way to achieve this is to allow low emissions energy to be cheaper than high emissions energy for everyone. This can be achieved if the world implements a policy to educate the anti-nukes and sideline the uneducatable anti-nuke zealots. The cost of nuclear power would be 1/10th of what it is now and cheaper than any other electricity supply option if not for 50 years of anti-nuke zealotry spreading anti-nuke propaganda, fear and paranoia. This explains: https://judithcurry.com/2016/01/19/is-nuclear-the-cheapest-way-to-decarbonize-electricity/

      • The problem lies, first and foremost, with the goals spelled out in the agreement.

        That isn’t the real problem.

        Studies show that:
        1. Yields for crops like soybeans are increasing the most at the equator.
        2. Drought and heat resistance of the major grain crops are increasing.

        A 2°C target based on 2000 plant data isn’t appropriate today, and will be even less justified in 2030.

        The limit should be a moving target and adjusted upwards as crops adapt.

  28. In a University of Chicago Podcast, two constitutional lawyers discuss the issues (Pro and Con) of President Obama’s Clean Power Plan that SCOTUS will be looking at:


  29. Peter Lang

    What Happens to an Economy When Forced to Use Renewable Energy?

    The Reality: Renewable-energy mandates may appeal to ‘green’ voters; but Europe’s experience clearly shows that such mandates drive up electricity prices and hurt national competitiveness.

    Bernie Sanders:

    “Transitioning toward a completely
    nuclear-free clean energy system for
    electricity, heating, and transportation
    is not only possible and affordable; it
    will create millions of good jobs, clean
    up our air and water, and decrease
    our dependence on foreign oil.”

    • Mike Flynn


      If anyone has the faintest idea of what a clean energy system is, it might be a good idea if they could let the rest of us know the details.

      Maybe someone has figured out how to make bamboo wiring to distribute the ether from wooden generators.

      Colour me unimpressed by stories of clean energy. The devil’s in the detail, and the detail is conspicuously absent, I fear.


    • Peter Lang,

      Bernie Sanders, just like Richard Nixon, is a fan of debauched or vitiated Keynesianism. As Richard Nixon proclaimed in 1972: “We’re all Keynesians now.”

      Under a very select set of circumstances, there is nothing wrong with Keynes’ spend-to-stimulate fiscal policy. But Nixon and Sanders believe that in Keynes they have found the cure-all which can heal all economic ailments. So regardless of what the real diagnosis might be, every problem becomes one of insufficient aggregate demand. If economics were only so simple!

      The quote that Sanders and Nixon hang their hat on is from The General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money, where Keynes writes:

      If the Treasury were to fill old bottles with banknotes, bury them at suitable depths in disused coalmines which are then filled up to the surface with town rubbish, and leave it to private enterprise on well-tried principles of laissez-faire to dig the notes up again (the right to do so being obtained, of course, by tendering for leases of the note-bearing territory), there need be no more unemployment and, with the help of the repercussions, the real income of the community, and its capital wealth also, would probably become a good deal greater than it actually is. It would, indeed, be more sensible to build houses and the like; but if there are political and practical difficulties in the way of this, the above would be better than nothing.

      I of course disagree with Nixon and Sanders, but to understand more fully their argument, one might want to take a look at this:

      A National Plan for the UK
      From Austerity to the Age of the Green New Deal

      The fifth anniversary report of the Green New Deal Group


      • The fault of the argument is failing to distinguish between making work and making wealth.

        I can easily employ a street gang to throw rocks thru windows in order to stimulate the glass industry. In doing so I’ve not created any wealth…I’ve simply destroyed perfectly good glass in order to create employment.

        This has always been the fundamental discussion in politics…some will say the problem is the pie is being distributed unfairly…others will say the pie isn’t big enough to begin with.

        If you believe the pie is too small..the you favor creating wealth…if you believe the pie is distributed unfairly…then you favor creating work.

      • Peter Lang

        Glenn Stehle and harrywr2,

        Thank you for these really informative comments. Much appreciated.

        harrywr2, I agree. Excellent point

    • Peter Lang,

      Your link gives a concise and realistic appraisal of the fruits of renewables sbusidies, which can be summed up simply as “exceedingly costly electric power.”

      I was watching CBS Evening News last night and they had a tribute to Morley Safer:

      Remembering CBS News legend Morley Safer

      At mnute 2:37 there’s a segment where Safer went to a modern art gallery. He is standing in front of a “painting” that is nothing more than an empty, white canvas.

      “It’s a white rectangle,” says Safer.

      “Right. He’s a minimal artists, and…” replies the gallery owner.

      “I would say so,” rejoins Safer.

      This of course “riled the art establishment, suggesting some of the emperors of the modern art world wear no clothes.”

      But it raises a broader question: How do you argue with people who have a value system that deems nothing to be something, and nothing to be exceedingly valuable?

      Such a value system, it goes without saying, can only exist in a post-scarcity economy.

      “Post-scarcity economy”

      Nevertheless, this is the value system espoused by the most elite of our elites like Clinton, Sanders, Cuomo, Obama and Jerry Brown,

    • Peter Lang,

      Make sure and not miss this from the Presidential thread:

      Here’s the money quote from the video:

      DONALD TRUMP: I’m all for national security, I just think we have to spend it on the right national security. When we throw it away by the hundreds of billions of dollars, just throw it away, people say “What’s going on?” And it does make it much more difficult for people to want to pay more tax.

      Look, a good economy solves all of the problems we’re talking about. Good economy solves everything, but we don’t seem to have that economy.

      A friend of mine in the enrgy business, just to get off the subject a little bit, we send so much coal to China….

      We send coal to China but we’re not allowed to use coal anymore because you can’t open up a new coal-fired plant, I mean it’s almost impossible. It probalby is impossible to get an approval. And yet China is going wild with our coal.

      You know, at what point do we get smart and say, “Hey look, we have to compete and we have to win, and we have to take it back from China and other countries”?

      It’s very, very difficult. It’s a very, very difficult place. We’ve become completely moral bound and democratic. It’s very difficult.

  30. The unbelievable lightness of being, Peter.

    • Peter Lang

      Beth, I don’t get it? Is being light good or bad?

      • IN Bernie’s case it’s not so good.

      • Peter re ‘I don’t get it? Is lightness good or bad?’
        Hey, a literary reference, Milan Kundera ‘Unbearable
        lightness of being.,’ :) Say Peter, ‘light,’ central metaphor
        of humanity, but ‘lightness’, ‘lack -of -weight,’ something
        else. Like windmill energy, costing heaps jest ter boil
        a kettle.

        .. Re late reply , Belinda and bts in dark forest shack,
        electricity outage, no torch, jest a candle!

      • Hi dear Pokerguy. Come in Pokerguy )

  31. Peter Lang

    US congress gives strong support to nuclear power
    The US Senate has voted by a wide margin (90-8) to make a significant investment in nuclear energy. A strong bipartisan vote passed the $37.5 billion Energy and Water Development Appropriations bill for fiscal 2017. In particular, the bill provides $94.5 million (well above the Obama administration’s budget request) for advanced reactor technologies at the Department of Energy and another $95 million to support small modular reactor (SMR) development. Two other bills supporting nuclear energy are making their way through congress with strong bipartisan support: the Advanced Nuclear Technology Development Act of 2016 (H.R. 4979), and the Nuclear Energy Innovation and Modernization Act (S. 2795).”
    US nuclear power policy