Sunday, December 06, 2020

SOMETHING FOR THE WEEKEND: Green Deal - Good For us? by Wiggia

The inevitability of Boris coming out with his (is it his?) green deal whilst the virus farce continues was bang on schedule.

Bold headlines promised much; all are to be spared the ravages of climate change, electric is good everything else bad, jobs for everyone, endless investment and soon, just soon, we will all be living in those sunlit uplands so often promised but still eluding us.

A state of nirvana will blanket us, joy will flood our lives as driverless EVs transport us to wherever we wish after a call to Alexa, energy will be clean to assuage any lingering doubts on its source, it will also be so cheap everyone will have access and will bathe in a warm and comfortable environment, strolling through the Elysian Fields and thanking Boris for his wonderful gift to us all. Bollox: for entry into the Elysian Fields one had to be virtuous, well that leaves out Boris and most of the incumbents of the HoC.

Never, since the last one, has such a statement gone so unchallenged, announced as the country goes into free-fall and enormous debt. He hoses billions of our money in the direction of a goal that cannot be reached, not just in the time scale laid out; it is unachievable, "as any fool no." Why and how are they allowed to get away with it?

Progress and change go hand in hand. They cannot be forced without consequences; there will always be resistance to change, often unfounded but equally justified. This green deal is neither justified or desirable in the form set out. Even its basic assumptions are flawed: 'massive increase in jobs for British workers as we lead the world in this technology' - what part of this technology is he talking about? The technology we sold off and failed to take advantage of the first time, like nuclear; or the manufacturing at home of his beloved windmills?

Even now the Chinese, already the biggest suppliers of batteries, are going ahead with an enormous plant in France to supply Europe; Tesla are building a giant complex to do the same here. Nothing British about any of that, we currently only spend 29% of the money on wind farms here in this country; the 50% of the £50 billion promised to the wind farm industry has already been earmarked for spending abroad.

How is doubling the wind farm capacity going to make any difference on cold windless days, as we have had lately? On one the contribution by wind to the total energy output was just over 1.5%; spending billions will give us on the same days 3% and unless we have adequate backup eg nuclear we will have rolling blackouts - California has shown the way in this.

Does no one here ever read the news? It beggars belief that anyone would think it would be different here and it will get worse.

The demand that will be created if we change to EVs and replace gas with electric heat pumps alone will require huge changes, most of which have not been costed; although as with all things, like it or not the consumer will pay. This document from the National Grid lays out many of the proposed solutions and problems but is very short on feasibility and costs to the user.

The NG has quite a lot to say about hydrogen, which is more than Boris has; there is obviously a long way to go before hydrogen is pumped through the disused gas pipe system, so there will be no relief for some time yet, even if it is viable.

What we do know is the cost of replacing gas boilers with electric heat pumps, which themselves could be replaced by hydrogen/electric hybrid pumps, if we ever get that far, is astronomical compared with the gas boilers. Who will or can afford to pay between £10-15k for a replacement? If the government coughs up subsidies then again the taxpayer will have it added to his bill for going green.

Are there enough raw materials for all the batteries that will be needed? Another silence from those advocating the change. The lithium and cobalt needed is sourced from a tiny number of countries and one is the Congo, hardly a stable trading partner. The only answer I have seen to this question is that we must trust that battery technology will change, alleviating the need for these rare earths.

But battery technology has largely reached the end of the road with current types. Any new forms are in the experimental stage and have been for some years.

The disposal of these batteries at end of life has not even started, yet the business of scrapping millions of large batteries is another problem yet to be solved. The whole battery conundrum is itself anything but green from start to finish.

And they are not quite the panacea that climate change activists claim them to be:

What I think everyone has to ask is not whether all these things are possible - technological advances will always come up with an answer eventually - but why the rush? A cleaner, greener world is universally to be desired, but you cannot junk what has been the driving force of energy since the industrial revolution overnight. Also, why the narrow band down which this change is advancing? Coal and gas are plentiful as is oil; clean use of all three should surely be possible, while the other forms of energy production are refined or abandoned or discovered; it should not be one or the other. Wind in most cases is a dead end: any power supply that needs permanent stand by back up because of its reliance on a variable source by nature makes it expensive, you are running two parallel systems, but now we have the lunacy of going forward with wind and solar with little or no back up; unless more nuclear stations are to be commissioned, and that is a long term project with little sign of enough being done.

We are currently set in an anticyclonic condition for the best part of a month. The wind power today 29/11was just one gig, and we have been reliant on French imports at maximum for a part of this period. It doesn’t exactly fill one with hope that things will change when we go full-on for sustainable energy, and full electric everything; our own backup cannot cope with the shortfall now.

Boris also proudly boasted we would be leading the world in sustainable energy. He's a little late with that piece of malfeasance, the Danes are way ahead of us and are the leaders worldwide in the use of wind power.

At first glance they seem to have cracked it, but as with all in the land of eco believers not all you see is true. Several large pieces of information are missing; for a start they are the world's biggest wind turbine manufacturers which puts a dent in anything Boris claims about leading the way in this field; and of course, they are on our doorstep.

It is worth reading this as underneath the headline-grabbing 'Denmark has 100% energy powered by wind' several actualities are revealed.

For a start the Danes have never reduced their traditional power stations, they have enough interlocker connections to import electricity by up to 40% so the reliance on wind is offset by stand by power stations and imports when needed. There is very little information as to when the wind does not blow, that item seems to missing in all the hype about when it is, and the Danes pay the highest prices in the EU for energy, some is taxes and some is the subsidy for wind power.

It would be churlish to pretend that nuclear does not receive subsidies, but the difference is nuclear does not need a back up system, wind does and the indirect cost of that in Denmark or anywhere that has a significant amount of wind power is difficult to quantify.

Any counter arguments to the green ideology are reduced to little-read blogs and articles in small group papers, few get aired to the general public; this is one such article by Ruth Lea in 2019:


Phrases like ‘futile gesture politics’ are seized on and discounted because they go against the climate change narrative, rather like the answer to not locking down for Covid - ‘but if it saves one life...’ There really appears to be no balance allowed in any argument on the subject despite the fact you cannot beat nature anyway: if an ice age appears what are we going to do to stop it happening. There isn’t anything that can be done, there never has been, so why the difference over global warming which is also a recurring event over the millennia?

And at the other side of the argument we have scare tactics like this….

Coal is a dirty fuel, but why has there been no effort to use clean coal methods of energy production? It beggars belief that clean coal is not possible seeing the billions thrown at other unreliable energy projects.

The costs of clean coal are argued about but with sustainable energy having huge hidden costs that one day will come home to roost. In a sane world, clean coal has to be worth more experimentation, not just shoved in the 'don’t use' drawer.

One of the many problems climate change scientists activists and believers have, is their predictions of global meltdown. Their apocalyptic scenarios have all come to naught, so why should anyone believe them? At this moment in time I am looking out of my study window and we have heavy snow; remember this from that centre of all things climate change in the UK, the UEA in 2000? -

According to Dr David Viner, a senior research scientist at the climatic research unit (CRU) of the University of East Anglia,within a few years winter snowfall will become “a very rare and exciting event”.

“Children just aren’t going to know what snow is,” he said.

He must be an associate of Professor Ferguson, who has never got a prediction right.

One of several abandoned wind farms in California: a blot on the landscape and a sign of the future?

And how much would any of those same scientists likely to actually bet their house on this actually happening; any?

Mind you, if that phone monstrosity should ever go beneath the waves it would do us all a favour.

The figures for the extraction of rare earths and metals for battery production are shrouded by the mists of those who don’t want you to know. So many conflicting ‘studies’ have been published it is impossible to pin down how much of these materials, lithium and cobalt in particular, are actually available and over what time frame.

Currently we have not even started to feed the monster that battery production will become if the way forward laid out by the likes of Bojo comes to fruition.

The bottom line from that piece, according to Argonne National Laboratory, is that “the available materials will not be depleted in the foreseeable future. … Known lithium reserves could meet world demand to 2050.”

If correct 2050 is when we all go total electric and the demand for batteries will be immense as will the demand for the materials to build them. Alternative types of battery have been in the pipeline for some time but are yet to see the light of day, and meanwhile the lithium ion battery has nearly reached its limit in development.

New battery technology needs to come on stream much earlier than predicted, lithium batteries being inherently unsafe as they use a flammable liquid as a conductor, and when new batteries start being used, who will want vehicles with the old lithium ones? And will the current price of between 30-50% of an EV that is the battery component come with the advent of solid state and the like. If it is expensive technology EVs will remain out of reach for many in the foreseeable future.

Another problem with current EVs is battery size equates to range, but that brings with it weight and safety issues plus an increase in costs that far outweighs those of conventional ICE vehicles.

And the cost of replacement? The price is coming down, the guarantees on the batteries vary quite a bit at the moment, assuming your car is a Nissan Leaf you have guarantee for the battery to retain 75% of its charge for five to eight years depending on battery size and /or 100,000 miles which is actually not bad, though the older ones are only to 66%, which in a car with a limited range is a big drop in mileage that can be covered. If you keep the car beyond those dates and you have to replace, the cost from a dealer is just under £5k which for a small car of that age would mean junking it rather than replacing the battery as it would be uneconomic. The hope would be that as in the USA third party batteries would appear at much lower costs.

 If you have a Tesla S you are in for a shock (electric joke) as the cost is around £40k, so those bigger batteries have to come down in price to make economic sense; the old adage 'wait till the technology is sorted' stands well here.

Tesla’s warranty conditions can be seen here and are similar apart from the caveat that brought about a class action lawsuit, updates can alter your battery in a negative way and there is no warranty cover. That may change but would be an expensive worry to a prospective purchaser.

What would stymie the third party battery business is if as with other items like cameras you end up with certain manufacturers making the micro chip technology unavailable to third party manufacturers. If that were to happen there is a problem as there would be nowhere else to go other than an official dealer and you would pay the going rate. That already happens with some standard batteries now, you can get third party ones but an official dealer will charge you to reset the onboard computer so it is useable and then charge for that on top of the battery costs. This is a contentious area.

Range in these cars, particularly the smaller ones, is optimal in summer conditions and day time running, but winter, lights, heater, windscreen wipers all make big inroads into the range available. I read somewhere that in colder climes owners fit diesel heaters to extend the range, which rather defeats the whole point of EVs.

Man has a way of finding solutions and no doubt will re batteries and powering of items from phones to EVs. The real problem, at the moment unsolvable, is the production of energy using ‘sustainable' wind and solar: if that sort of production becomes mainstream the demand for back up becomes even more imperative, which leads us to question why we are going on this uncertain and costly route; it is not to save the planet, our efforts even at the maximum predicted won't even scratch the surface. No wonder people think the climate change scam is a conspiracy.


Paddington said...

There are problems with everything.

A warming climate actually means more snow, as the heated oceans put more water vapour into the air.

Sackerson said...

@P: Gaia Hypothesis?

Paddington said...

No. Simple Physics, backed up by observation and experiment.

Sackerson said...

@P: Yes, but self-regulating consequences?

Jim in San Marcos said...

Its amazing that people can deduce climate trends for the earth in just one life time. Billions of years and by God we are going to hell if we don't change our ways. It reminds me of the people walking around with signs saying "Repent now the end is near."

You need to have a lifespan of several thousands of years to in order to comprehend climate change.

Create a problem and propose a political solution to fix it. We have been here before.

Paddington said...

@Jim - that's why the climatologists look at old records, plus proxies for them. Carbon dioxide levels can be directly measured from old wood and clam shells, for example.

Paddington said...

@Sackerson - what do you mean by self-regulating? Falling snow and ice actually warms things up.

Jim in San Marcos said...

If you go back in time, 2 billion years ago, there wasn't enough oxygen on the earth to support animals and you couldn't even light a fire, there wasn't enough oxygen. about one billion years ago the oxygen level rose enough to support animal life.

I'm not sure that we can deduce anything from the old records you refer to.

Just breathing would have been an effort 1 billion years ago.

The issue you are talking about only involves the last 800 years.

That not what I call an opened mind.

Paddington said...

@Jim - You appear to have a severe case of projection. You make a jump from a billion years ago to 800 years ago, and say that, because we don't know everything, we know nothing. There are people who spend their entire lives studying ancient climates, and they know a great deal.