Global Warming: Recent Data

A place to bring a contemplative / Dharmic perspective and opinions to current events and politics.
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Kim OHara
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Re: Global Warming: Recent Data

Post by Kim OHara » Sun May 13, 2018 5:33 am

Leeuwenhoek2 wrote:
Sun May 13, 2018 4:41 am
Headline: UK's Barclays Bank hit by solar scandal
Some buyers were misled into thinking rooftop panels would ‘pay for themselves’
https://www.thetimes.co.uk/edition/busi ... -70fmt0d2w
Barclays Bank has become embroiled in a fresh mis-selling scandal after the ombudsman found evidence that some households were misled into taking out loans to put solar panels on their roof.

The Financial Ombudsman Service said it had seen a significant increase in complaints from households who were typically told the panels would “pay for themselves” and could cut their bills.

In fact, households often found that the loan repayments exceeded the income and savings they made from the panels and some were left thousands of pounds worse off as a result.
:rolleye:
We've got banking scandals too - http://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-05-04/d ... nt/9728560 - but they have nothing to do with solar power.
And the solar panels on my house paid for themselves inside four years - even at the relatively high price we paid seven years ago - and we've been banking profits ever since. My sister-in-law is happily running her off-grid weekender on solar panels she and her husband bought thirty years ago, so we expect to go on enjoying free power for another twenty-some years, unless we die first - or move house. And if we move? Why, we will just install more solar panels. :twothumbsup:

BTW, project Drawdown loves rooftop solar, too: http://www.drawdown.org/solutions/elect ... ftop-solar

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Re: Global Warming: Recent Data

Post by Leeuwenhoek2 » Sun May 13, 2018 5:42 pm

Kim OHara wrote:
Sun May 13, 2018 5:33 am
And the solar panels on my house paid for themselves inside four years - even at the relatively high price we paid seven years ago - and we've been banking profits ever since. ... :twothumbsup:

No doubt they will "pay for themselves" ... to you.
I say "it pays for itself to you" because in many cases a positive return-on-investment (ROI) depends on various kinds of subsidies, some of them not so obvious. :oops: So claiming that such investments have a positive ROI without saying what subsidies you are getting is a huge red flag. :embarassed:
And who pays for the subsidy? The rest of society. So anyone who claims that their solar panels are "paying for themselves" should expect follow-up questions about the real ROI without subsidies and with more realistic buy back rates.

An analogy. Imagine a local farmer's market that sells apples for $2 or euros a bag. Now comes along a law that requires the farmer to buy any apples you grow from you at the full price of $2 a bag. Something like that often happens with energy buy back laws.
What about over head costs or a reasonable commission? Tough luck farmer and farmer market vendors.
What happens if the farmer can't sell all the apples? Tough luck farmer.
On top of that the farmers are responsible for picking up the bags of apples at your front door. What about the extra transportation cost? Tough luck farmer or vendor, pay up.
So the farmer's have to raise the cost of a bag of apples to everyone. How is that fair to everyone else who buys food at the farmers market? Tough luck everyone else.

Am I exaggerating this? I don't think so. This is the less obvious and nasty side of these programs. That is why many believe that a source neutral, technology neutral carbon tax is a better for the environment and better for society.

But in many or most parts of the worlds installations of solar panels receive subsidies of various forms. Tax breaks is one way but not the only. Power buy back programs -- where homes can sell power to the grid usually at far above market prices -- are often a major subsidy. Realistic prices would be close to the wholesale price which grid operators pay power generators (including solar and wind farms) for electricity. But it seems that many energy buyback programs pay much, much higher rates. That is a form of on going subsidy.

http://www.pewtrusts.org/en/research-an ... ans-spread
States are re-examining whether utilities should pay retail prices for the energy that solar customers generate.

The practice of requiring utilities to pay solar energy customers retail prices for electricity that they produce but can’t use is under attack in multiple states.

And energy policy analysts, electric utilities and solar industry representatives predict the practice will lose favor as solar power’s popularity continues to grow.

Net metering — paying solar customers for transferring their excess energy back on to the electric grid, usually at retail rates — might be a victim of its own success.

It has helped to propel the surge in solar power. But for utilities, what was once a minor expense has grown into a huge one. State policymakers in booming solar markets and elsewhere are looking to see if net metering places a disproportionate burden on utilities and their non-solar customers.

Regulators and legislatures in 28 states, from Hawaii to Maine, are either scrapping net metering or considering doing so. The measures’ potential impact on utilities, the solar industry and its customers vary.
Hawaii, for example, is closing net metering to new solar customers. Nevada is phasing out net metering at retail rates for everyone. California decided to preserve net metering at least until the end of the decade.
But net metering has long been a target of utilities and critics, so why does there seem to be such a rush to reconsider the policy now? At the end of last year, the U.S. Congress extended a 30 percent tax credit for installing solar panels through 2021.

Had the tax credit died or been extended for just another year, “a lot of steam would have been taken out of solar growth and out of the net metering argument,” said John Godfrey, a Washington lobbyist for the American Public Power Association, which represents publicly owned utilities.

... Solar energy is alluring because it’s free and nonpolluting. But the debate over net metering highlights the difficulty utilities and regulators have in integrating solar into the electrical grid.
...But utilities’ net metering costs are escalating, and many of them are calling the arrangement lopsided. They say it favors solar customers at the expense of utilities and non-solar customers.

... it’s fair for solar customers not to pay for a utility’s power, “because they did not use it.”

“But, they also avoid paying for all of the fixed costs of the grid that delivers power when they need it and takes the power they sell back to the utility,” the institute said. “As a result, these grid costs are shifted to those customers without rooftop solar.”

... studies are underway in at least 24 states to quantify the value of solar, according to the N.C. Clean Energy Technology Center at North Carolina State University.

Autumn Proudlove, a senior policy analyst at the center, said that the valuation studies and other factors will lead to gradual changes in most states.
“People recognize that net metering doesn’t necessarily recognize the costs to utilities,” Proudlove said. “It’s a rough mechanism. There is a movement to get more granular and have it reflect the actual costs and benefits” of selling excess energy to a utility.
-- http://www.pewtrusts.org/en/research-an ... ans-spread

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Kim OHara
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Re: Global Warming: Recent Data

Post by Kim OHara » Sun May 13, 2018 9:58 pm

:goodpost:
There's a lot of truth in what you say although there are also some significant gaps.
The biggest gap is that you fail to acknowledge the enormous subsidies paid to fossil-fuel producers and power generators. While they continue, subsidies to solar and wind have little net effect on taxes.
Less obviously, giving fossil fuels and renewables anything resembling a level playing field in the present ignores the future cost of dealing with climate change and is effectively a deferred subsidy to the fossils. Your or your kids or their kids will pay for years for every additional ton of CO2 we put into the air now.
The third point I would mention is that government subsidies and tax breaks vary wildly from one state or country to another and one decade to another. Here in Australia, for instance, subsidies for rooftop solar included generous feed-in tariffs to help drive take-up but these have been wound back as prices for panels have dropped. This was part of the plan, and the plan worked.

As for a carbon tax, I think it's a great idea but it has been shown to be hard to introduce over the opposition of vested interests (you know, exxon mobil shell peabody koch :guns: ) so I will settle for any policies at all which help us decarbonise.

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Re: Global Warming: Recent Data

Post by Leeuwenhoek2 » Mon May 14, 2018 2:18 pm

Kim OHara wrote:
Sun May 13, 2018 9:58 pm
:goodpost:
There's a lot of truth in what you say although there are also some significant gaps.
I say it was even better than you allow.
Kim OHara wrote:
Sun May 13, 2018 9:58 pm
The biggest gap is that you fail to acknowledge the enormous subsidies paid to fossil-fuel producers and power generators. While they continue, subsidies to solar and wind have little net effect on taxes.
Getting reasonable and well documented information on these alleged "enormous subsidies" isn't easy. I've tried to follow up on such claims before and the results were underwhelming. In the US a number of the so-called subsidies aren't subsidies (at least not in a normal sense) but rather depreciation schedules for income tax purposes, investment tax credits, etc. However, most businesses can claim many of those accelerated depreciation schedules or credits or have similar schedules that make sense for their particular business activities. Most depreciation schedules seem to be based on a good deal of somewhat arbitrary rate setting to me.

Labeling a tax credit -- a credit that is applies to all business investment in every field -- as a "subsidy" seems like a desperate overreach or grasping at straws to many. So alot of informed opinion sees many claims of fossil subsidies in the US as problematic.
Your 'mileage' in other countries probably varies widely.

The best that can be said for the claim of significant fossil fuel subsidies in the US is that economists can make arguments and criticisms, claims and counter-claims until even Mara gets bored. In other words there are enormous significant gaps in these claims.
Kim OHara wrote:
Sun May 13, 2018 9:58 pm
Less obviously, giving fossil fuels and renewables anything resembling a level playing field in the present ignores the future cost of dealing with climate change and is effectively a deferred subsidy to the fossils.
Ignoring costs? I don't think so. Does one need to promote a carbon tax as an alternative in every single post? But my recent posts anticipated you on that one.
It's also wrong because it assumes why one would want to compare renewable and fossil fuels on a level playing field. I stated up front why I was doing it.
Finally, there is the "gap" between comparing dispatchable power (fossil, nuclear, hydro) to non-dispatchable & intermittent power.
Kim OHara wrote:
Sun May 13, 2018 9:58 pm
The third point I would mention is that government subsidies and tax breaks vary wildly from one state or country to another and one decade to another.
I should mention to you that I already mentioned that.

I give you 1/2 out of 3 alleged "significant gaps".

---------------------------------------------------------------------------
I thought the specific and highlighted focus of my last post was rather artfully expressed and a good model to follow.
I say "it pays for itself to you" because in many cases a positive return-on-investment (ROI) depends on various kinds of subsidies, some of them not so obvious. :oops: So claiming that such investments have a positive ROI without saying what subsidies you are getting is a huge red flag.

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Re: Global Warming: Recent Data

Post by Kim OHara » Tue May 15, 2018 9:50 pm

Leeuw2, I am going to post here a very small selection of the results I got when searching "fossil fuel subsidies". You may (and, on the basis of your past behaviour, I suspect you will) howl them down as being unreliable, incomplete, biased, etc, but I don't want to leave others thinking that your "we can't know" is justified.
In each case, the link is followed by a very short excerpt.
The last of these results may be the best starting point for further reading because of all the references it includes.

http://ieefa.org/federal-subsidies-favo ... -gas-coal/
President Trump’s energy policies have established a wide-spread effort to rig the economy in favor of big energy and mining companies at the expense of the American public, while burying the evidence in secrecy.
Early on, the Trump administration and Congress acted to keep its energy giveaways secret by repealing requirements that fossil fuel companies disclose publicly their tax, royalty and lease payments to federal and state governments.
http://www.climatechangenews.com/2016/1 ... er-plants/
Spain is propping up old coal and gas-fired power plants with payments for staying open, regardless of how much they generate.
The support, worth €1 billion a year, is a needless burden on consumers, according to a report from the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (IEEFA).
http://priceofoil.org/fossil-fuel-subsidies/
Internationally, governments provide at least $775 billion to $1 trillion annually in subsidies, not including other costs of fossil fuels related to climate change, environmental impacts, military conflicts and spending, and health impacts. This figure varies each year based on oil prices, but it is consistently in the hundreds of billions of dollars. Greater transparency in reporting would allow for more precise figures.
When externalities are included, as in a 2015 study by the International Monetary Fund, the unpaid costs of fossil fuels are upward of $5.3 trillion annually – which works out to a staggering $10 million per minute.
Oil Change International’s most recent reporting looks at money for fossil fuel production only
https://www.iea.org/publications/insigh ... nomies.pdf
The IEA estimate of fossil fuel subsidies in APEC has fallen by 50% since 2011, to around USD 70 billion in 2015, because of declines in international prices and continued policy reforms by governments. A lower international price environment since 2014 has facilitated moves by APEC economies towards more transparent, market-based pricing of energy
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Energy_subsidies
A 2016 study estimated that global fossil fuel subsidies were $5.3 trillion in 2015, which represents 6.5% of global GDP.[3] The study found that "China was the biggest subsidizer in 2013 ($1.8 trillion), followed by the United States ($0.6 trillion), and Russia, the European Union, and India (each with about $0.3 trillion)."[3] The authors estimated that the elimination of "subsidies would have reduced global carbon emissions in 2013 by 21% and fossil fuel air pollution deaths 55%, while raising revenue of 4%, and social welfare by 2.2%, of global GDP."[3] According to the International Energy Agency, the elimination of fossil fuel subsidies worldwide would be the one of the most effective ways of reducing greenhouse gases and battling global warming.[4] In May 2016, the G7 nations set for the first time a deadline for ending most fossil fuel subsidies; saying government support for coal, oil and gas should end by 2025.[14]
:reading:
:reading:
:reading:
Kim

:embarassed: Edit: fixed formatting

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Re: Global Warming: Recent Data

Post by Kim OHara » Sat May 19, 2018 7:23 am

Global warming is on track to cause a major wipeout of insects, compounding already severe losses, according to a new analysis.

Insects are vital to most ecosystems and a widespread collapse would cause extremely far-reaching disruption to life on Earth, the scientists warn. Their research shows that, even with all the carbon cuts already pledged by nations so far, climate change would make almost half of insect habitat unsuitable by the end of the century, with pollinators like bees particularly affected.

However, if climate change could be limited to a temperature rise of 1.5C - the very ambitious goal included in the global Paris agreement - the losses of insects are far lower.

The new research is the most comprehensive to date, analysing the impact of different levels of climate change on the ranges of 115,000 species. It found plants are also heavily affected but that mammals and birds, which can more easily migrate as climate changes, suffered less.

“We showed insects are the most sensitive group,” said Prof Rachel Warren, at the University of East Anglia, who led the new work. “They are important because ecosystems cannot function without insects. They play an absolutely critical role in the food chain.” ...
Climate change and its effects on the natural world have tracked close to the upper end of scientists' estimates for years, perhaps because scientists didn't want to be seen as "alarmists", and it's still happening:
... Warren said the new work had taken account of the ability of species to migrate, but had not been able to include the impact of lost interactions between species as ranges contract, or of the impacts of more extreme weather events on wildlife. As both of those would increase the losses of range, Warren said the estimates of losses made were likely to be underestimates. ...
:reading: https://www.theguardian.com/environment ... tists-warn

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Re: Global Warming: Recent Data

Post by Leeuwenhoek2 » Tue May 22, 2018 12:05 am

Kim, It is the case that there are fossil fuel subsidies of some sort in many countries. I think it is valid to emphasize that the concept of a "subsidy" is a bit in the eye of the beholder. Or perhaps more to the point, one needs to be careful to understand what is meant by the label.
Also that there is broad agreement that fossil fuel subsidies are in decline. As a basic support of modern life, fossil fuels is only one of the many things that might be said to be subsidied by governments. However, the focus of my last post was on the US.

Knowing that in the US the Libertarian Cato Institute is big on removing government influence on the economy in all kinds of ways. So I went to Cato's website for a quick review. As usual with Cato, their experts don't always agree.

“Big Oil” at the Public Trough? An Examination of Petroleum Subsidies -- 2001
Executive Summary
Critics of the oil industry allege that the industry receives large and unwarranted government subsidies and that rival technologies, such as those for ethanol, renewable energy, and energy efficiency, deserve compensating government preferences. The evidence indicates that, on balance, the oil industry is not a net beneficiary of government subsidies. The facts point in the opposite direction. The oil industry is more harmed than helped by government intervention in energy markets.

Special tax deductions, direct expenditures, net excise taxes, and research and development expenditures are constantly targeted by oil critics. However, those subsidies are a small share of oil revenues and far less generous than the preferences and subsidies provided for rival businesses and technologies such as mass transit and alternative fuels. Moreover, most energy subsidies are wealth transfers that do not significantly distort energy prices or affect energy markets.
- https://www.cato.org/publications/polic ... -subsidies
Commentary: Eliminating Oil Subsidies: Two Cheers for President Obama 2011
The largest tax break at issue is a tax credit passed in 2005, which is available to all U.S. manufacturers.

First of all, let the record show that President Obama is right and the GOP is wrong about these tax breaks. They make the economy less — not more — efficient and do nothing to reduce prices at the pump.

Although the president hopes to eliminate eight specific tax breaks ... only three, accounting for $31.9 billion of that total, are particularly important. Conservatives have no business defending any of them.

The largest tax break at issue is a tax credit passed in 2005, which is available to all U.S. manufacturers. Oil and gas companies qualify for that credit, so they will likely deduct somewhere in the neighborhood of $18.3 billion from their tax bill over the next 10 years.
Note that this isn’t really an “oil subsidy”; it’s a manufacturing subsidy that oil and gas companies — along with many other companies — enjoy.

Rigging the tax code to make investments in manufacturing artificially more attractive than investments in something else is an enterprise designed to harm non-manufacturers for the benefit of … manufacturers. Conservatives who want government to leave markets alone have no business throwing their political bodies in front of this tax break. If their political rhetoric means anything, they would see the president’s bid and raise him by calling for total repeal of this tax break for everyone, not just for oil and gas companies.

Another significant tax break allows companies to accelerate the deductions of the costs of labor and various other inputs associated with drilling oil or gas wells. Now, there’s nothing wrong with deducting the cost of doing business from one’s tax bill. In other industries these expenses would be capitalized and deducted over time as income is earned. But in the oil and gas sector, the tax code allows oil and gas firms to deduct 70% of these expenses in the very first year of a well’s operation and the remainder over the next five years. These accelerated deductions are far more valuable to small producers than they are to large producers because the Alternative Minimum Tax for vertically integrated oil companies usually prevents “Big Oil” from using this tax break to its advantage. Still, it will likely cost the treasury $12.4 billion over the next 10 years.
-- https://www.cato.org/publications/comme ... dent-obama
Research Briefs in Economic Policy No. 53
The Environmental Cost of Global Fuel Subsidies 2016
Much less emphasized in the policy discussion, however, are the large external costs from gasoline and diesel subsidies. Removing fuel subsidies helps balance government budgets, but it also yields enduring benefits in the form of reduced emissions of carbon dioxide and other externalities. Worldwide the transportation sector is responsible for 23 percent of total energy-related carbon dioxide emissions (more than seven gigatons annually), so getting prices right in this sector is critical.

My research paper quantifies the environmental and other external costs of global fuel subsidies using the latest available data and estimates from the World Bank and International Monetary Fund. Under baseline assumptions about supply and demand elasticities, current subsidies cause $44 billion in external costs annually. This includes $8 billion from carbon dioxide emissions, $7 billion from local pollutants, $12 billion from traffic congestion, and $17 billion from accidents.

My work then turns to discuss prospects for alternative fuel vehicles in countries that heavily subsidize gasoline and diesel. The current vehicle stock in heavily energy subsidized economies is, not surprising, overwhelmingly composed of gasoline and diesel vehicles. The paper reviews the relevant academic literature to evaluate the potential prospects for electric vehicles (EVs), natural gas vehicles, and flex-fuel vehicles operating with biofuels.

Although it might be possible to diversify the vehicle stock with sufficient government incentives, this approach is unlikely to cost-effectively reduce externalities. Alternative fuel vehicles do little to reduce traffic congestion and accidents, the two largest components of externalities. In addition, incentives for alternative fuel vehicles only indirectly address carbon dioxide and local pollutants and do so at a high cost per vehicle.
--https://www.cato.org/publications/resea ... -subsidies
Last edited by Leeuwenhoek2 on Tue May 22, 2018 12:38 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Global Warming: Recent Data

Post by Leeuwenhoek2 » Tue May 22, 2018 12:36 am

Kim OHara wrote:
Sat May 19, 2018 7:23 am
Climate change and its effects on the natural world have tracked close to the upper end of scientists' estimates for years, perhaps because scientists didn't want to be seen as "alarmists", and it's still happening:
There is a popular, advocacy style, trope in reporting to say that "it's worse than we thought". Your overall impression has probably been swayed by that trope. I read the scientific literature differently. Global warming measurements for instance are closer to the lower bounds of estimates than to the upper bounds. Same for polar bear population estimates for instance.

There are fundamental logical problems with the idea that effects have "tracked close to the upper end of scientists' estimates for years". That would mean that the estimates have been consistently poor done. A good estimate should not either consistently over-predict or under-predict. But in your memory the estimates have consistently under-predicted.

One way to check your impression is to randomly choose a basket of estimates from all the estimates that have been made and compare them to measurements.

But what is more striking is that you allow for the possibility that some scientists may have shaped their estimates towards a social or political end. Well, finally, welcome to the club of science realists!

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Re: Global Warming: Recent Data

Post by Kim OHara » Thu May 24, 2018 11:35 am

On the way to mostly* renewable power -
The ongoing debate around whether it’s feasible to have an electric grid running on 100 percent renewable power in the coming decades often misses a key point: many countries and regions are already at or close to 100 percent now.

According to data compiled by the U.S. Energy Information Administration, there are seven countries already at, or very, near 100 percent renewable power: Iceland (100 percent), Paraguay (100), Costa Rica (99), Norway (98.5), Austria (80), Brazil (75), and Denmark (69.4). The main renewables in these countries are hydropower, wind, geothermal, and solar.

A new international study, which debunks many myths about renewable energy, notes that many large population regions are “at or above 100%” including Germany’s Mecklenburg-Vorpommern and Schleswig-Hostein regions, New Zealand’s South Island, and Denmark’s Samsø island. In Canada, both Quebec and British Columbia are at nearly 100 percent renewable power. ...
:reading: https://thinkprogress.org/a-100-percent ... d233c76e5/
for all the inline links to further information.

* Note: I said "mostly" because I recognise that the last few percentage points of fossil power will be very hard to eliminate - just as the first few percentage points of renewable power were so hard to achieve. But the trend now in the right direction and running very strongly.

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Re: Global Warming: Recent Data

Post by Leeuwenhoek2 » Fri May 25, 2018 4:44 am

CLAIM
A new international study, which debunks many myths about renewable energy, ...
CLAIM CHECK:
  • The "international study" was filed as a response to a previous published article titled: Burden of proof: A comprehensive review of the feasibility of 100% renewable-electricity systems in the journal Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews.
    Characterizing the situation in this way avoids recognizing the original paper and the active debate in the field.
  • Depending on one's understanding of what it means to "debunk" characterizing this disagreement as "debunking many myths" can be read as partisan rhetoric and spin. The wording is clever in how it portrays an attempt to debunk as somehow objectively successful and claims to the contrary as "myths".
  • The first article was itself written as a challenge to prior claims. Thus the new study "debunks" the previous "debunking".
Burden of proof: A comprehensive review of the feasibility of 100% renewable-electricity systems
Abstract:
An effective response to climate change demands rapid replacement of fossil carbon energy sources. This must occur concurrently with an ongoing rise in total global energy consumption.
While many modelled scenarios have been published claiming to show that a 100% renewable electricity system is achievable, there is no empirical or historical evidence that demonstrates that such systems are in fact feasible. Of the studies published to date, 24 have forecast regional, national or global energy requirements at sufficient detail to be considered potentially credible. We critically review these studies using four novel feasibility criteria for reliable electricity systems needed to meet electricity demand this century. ... Evaluated against these objective criteria, none of the 24 studies provides convincing evidence that these basic feasibility criteria can be met.
Of a maximum possible unweighted feasibility score of seven, the highest score for any one study was four. Eight of 24 scenarios (33%) provided no form of system simulation. Twelve (50%) relied on unrealistic forecasts of energy demand. While four studies (17%; all regional) articulated transmission requirements, only two scenarios—drawn from the same study—addressed ancillary-service requirements. In addition to feasibility issues, the heavy reliance on exploitation of hydroelectricity and biomass raises concerns regarding environmental sustainability and social justice. Strong empirical evidence of feasibility must be demonstrated for any study that attempts to construct or model a low-carbon energy future based on any combination of low-carbon technology. On the basis of this review, efforts to date seem to have substantially underestimated the challenge and delayed the identification and implementation of effective and comprehensive decarbonization pathways.
https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/a ... 2117304495#!
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Reason: Removed false attribution of quote

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Re: Global Warming: Recent Data

Post by Leeuwenhoek2 » Fri May 25, 2018 5:29 am

CLAIM:
... many countries and regions are already at or close to 100 percent now.
CLAIM CHECK:
There is a group of countries, often with relatively small populations, that are gifted with the right conditions and topography to be able to generate most of their electricity from hydro electric plants. Most countries don't have the necessary conditions that allow them to do that. Most, so called developed countries, have already mostly exploited the feasible hydro-electric opportunities.

It also must be noted that hydro power is highly dependent on precipitation. Rates of production usually vary considerably from year to year and even during the year.
Kim OHara wrote:
Thu May 24, 2018 11:35 am
On the way to mostly* renewable power -
Think Progress wrote:The ongoing debate around whether it’s feasible to have an electric grid running on 100 percent renewable power in the coming decades often misses a key point: many countries and regions are already at or close to 100 percent now.

According to data compiled by the U.S. Energy Information Administration, there are seven countries already at, or very, near 100 percent renewable power: Iceland (100 percent), Paraguay (100), Costa Rica (99), Norway (98.5), Austria (80), Brazil (75), and Denmark (69.4). The main renewables in these countries are hydropower, wind, geothermal, and solar.
https://thinkprogress.org/a-100-percent ... d233c76e5/
for all the inline links to further information.
CLAIM CHECK:
Is it realistic to label this group of countries as "many countries"?

I did a internet search on the first 4 countries, for instance "Iceland hydro power". All of them get the large majority of their electrical generation from hydro-electrical plants. Iceland in particular also enjoys a lot of geothermal.

Unless you are in one of these countries what does this information mean to you? Very little. It's hardly relevant. So big points for some interesting facts but a "key point" in the ongoing debate? Hardly.


The citation for the percentages quoted above is from wikipedia. Wikipedia tells us that:
In 2015, the total electricity consumption in Iceland was 18,798 GWh. Renewable energy provided almost 100% of electricity production, with about 73% coming from hydropower and 27% from geothermal power.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Renewable ... in_Iceland
This piece in The Guardian contradicts Kim's claim of %99. Hydro-electric plus geothermal generates about %90, not %99, of the power in most years.
Costa Rica gets most of its electricity from hydroelectric plants and a recent period of unusually heavy rain allowed the country to reach the milestone. This clean power is bolstered by geothermic energy from the country’s volcanoes and a small amount of wind and solar power. Most years, these sources allow Costa Rica to generate approximately 90% of its electricity without burning fossil fuels.
-- https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfr ... ate-change
Paraguay (pop. less than 7 million) gets nearly all it's electricity from a single large dam which it shares with Brazil.

--------------------------------

Readers should keep in mind that many plans for reducing carbon emissions call for greatly increasing electricity generation (perhaps a %50 increase) to replace fossil fuels. So being able to meet current demand from hydro-electric answers today's needs but probably not tomorrow's.

Also pay attention to claims made in one region of country and second for claims made for limited period during any one year. It's probably safe to assume that the region in question enjoys that nation's best hydro-electric or other renewable resources and conditions during the test period were favorable. In general pay attention to the "fine print" ... and the claims of enthusiastic boosters.

So last week, a Chinese province went out of their way to show it was possible for the entire region to run solely on green energy.

And it seems they did just that. For seven continuous days, over 5 million citizens living in the Qinghai Province in northwest China survived on 100 percent renewable energy, according to the State-run Xinhua News Agency.
... hydro power contributed about 72.3 percent, while newer energy sources, including wind and solar picked up the rest of the slack.
... Qinghai's power grid has a total installed capacity of 23.4 million kW, and a whopping 83.8 percent of that power currently comes from solar, wind and hydro power.
https://www.sciencealert.com/a-chinese- ... for-7-days
"... a whopping 83.8 percent of that power currently comes from solar, wind and hydro power."?
The relative contributions are listed in reverse order.
It would be more informative to write " a whopping 83.8 percent of that power currently comes largely from hydro power with contributions from wind and solar. IMO that is more "honest".
Last edited by retrofuturist on Fri May 25, 2018 5:49 am, edited 1 time in total.
Reason: Attribution of quotes made clearer

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Leeuwenhoek2
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Re: Global Warming: Recent Data

Post by Leeuwenhoek2 » Fri May 25, 2018 5:06 pm

There seems to be a general trends among many advocates for lower carbon emissions to underplay the scale of the response needed as well as the technology challenges.
It is particularly puzzling to a number of climate scientists as to why a) even the funding of research into safer, more sustainable nuclear power has been opposed in the last few decades and b) the eagerness to shut down existing operating nuclear plants. But nuclear aside, it seems to me (and I'm hardly alone in this) that the idea that "we can do this with existing technology, it's not hard, the problem is political support" is naive and not helpful.

https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/201 ... edded.html. ( I can't get this graph to display here.)
The graph is from a New York Times article
Wind and Solar Power Advance, but Carbon Refuses to Retreat (2017) by a Times staff writer.

The the top countries listed the graph shows the share of all electricity generated from clean sources.
Norway 97
Sweden 91
France 89
Switzerland 86
Canada 79
Brazil 74
Slovakia 72
Austria 68
New Zealand 65
Finland 62
Belgium 60
Colombia 60

Referring to the recent post by Kim, I don't understand why Iceland and Paraguay were not included in this list but their inclusion would not change the result. Only a small % of electric power in these top low carbon countries comes from wind and solar. The major renewable source is hydro-electric.

Key Point: In most developed countries the easy hydro-electric opportunities have been mostly 'tapped out'. That IMO is the most salient data for most readers.

Aside: Where the water and terrain resources are available micro hydro (small scale) generation appears to economically viable and relatively uncomplicated technically. Micro hydro is viable in a way that micro/small scale wind generation is not ... not unless you live on a place with exceptional wind resources such as the Orkney Islands. For home generation of electricity nearly everyone is limited to solar panels. I've installed and lived off-grid on solar panels. End Aside.

Also hydro is dependant on the amount of rain. Planning needs to be based upon an average year rather than above average years. A number of recent articles report results from above average to exceptional periods -- which is not a realistic basis for understanding.
Last edited by Leeuwenhoek2 on Fri May 25, 2018 5:36 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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Leeuwenhoek2
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Re: Global Warming: Recent Data

Post by Leeuwenhoek2 » Fri May 25, 2018 5:18 pm

More from the NYT article cited in the last post:
Environmental Progress performed an analysis of the evolution of the carbon intensity of energy in 68 countries since 1965. It found no correlation between the additions of solar and wind power and the carbon intensity of energy: Despite additions of renewable capacity, carbon intensity remained flat.

Some countries have bucked the trend. Denmark has sharply cut its carbon intensity with vast installations of wind turbines. And yet Germany’s experience seems to be more typical. The country went all out in deploying wind and solar energy over the past 10 years, but the decline in carbon intensity was minuscule, from 212 to 203 grams of CO2 per kilowatt-hour.
The most worrisome aspect about the all-out push for a future powered by renewables has to do with cost: The price of turbines and solar panels may be falling, but the cost of integrating these intermittent sources of energy — on when the wind blows and the sun shines; off when they don’t — is not. This alone will sharply curtail the climate benefits of renewable power.

Integrating renewable sources requires vast investments in electricity transmission — to move power from intermittently windy and sunny places to places where power is consumed. It requires maintaining a backstop of idle plants that burn fossil fuel, for the times when there is no wind or sun to be had. It requires investing in power-storage systems at a large scale.
After half a decade of sustained increases, investment in solar and wind energy has been fairly flat since 2010, at around $250 billion per year. While that is a lot of money, it is nowhere near enough.

We will need twice as much investment over a sustained period of time to get anywhere close to achieving 2 degrees,” said Ethan Zindler, head of Bloomberg New Energy Finance in the Americas, referring to the objective of the world’s climate diplomats: keep the average world temperature from rising more than 2 degrees Celsius above its average in the late 19th century.

I would suggest that the challenge is not just to raise more money. Building a zero-carbon energy system requires broader thinking about the technological mix.
https://www.nytimes.com/2017/11/07/busi ... ables.html
https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/201 ... ourse.html

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Leeuwenhoek2
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Renewable Reality in Brazil

Post by Leeuwenhoek2 » Fri May 25, 2018 5:55 pm

https://www.eia.gov/todayinenergy/detail.php?id=16731

JUNE 17, 2014
Hydropower supplies more than three-quarters of Brazil’s electric power

Image
Brazil is currently experiencing its worst drought in 40 years, which has contributed to electricity blackouts in many Brazilian regions. As Brazil hosts the 2014 World Cup soccer tournament over the next month, concerns have been raised as to whether electricity supply will be adequate to meet the increase in demand associated with the tournament. While the drought has persisted in northern Brazil, the south has been inundated with rainfall that has affected some World Cup matches
Even hydro requires fossil-fuel backup plants. The real cost of this energy is the cost of the hydro-electric plants plus the cost of fossil fuel plants. Staffing power plants with experienced operators and maintenance staff must be quite a challenge when the plants are only run some of the time.
Brazil has spent more than $5 billion to subsidize electric utilities replacing lost hydroelectric generation with fossil fuel-fired generation, including large amounts of liquefied natural gas, and has taken steps to provide backup generation for stadiums.
Once again this is a country with much better than average to exceptional hydro power resources. The "third-largest dam in the world" would only be the second-largest dam in Brazil!
Brazil's large geographic size has required substantial investments in electricity transmission lines and support facilities. To support future economic growth, Brazil has invested in additional hydroelectric facilities. For instance, the 14,000-megawatt Belo Monte dam along the Xingu River, expected to be completed in 2016, will become the second-largest dam in Brazil—and the third-largest dam in the world—at a projected cost of $13 billion.
This is great for Brazil and the limited number of countries with these exceptional resources.
But even for Brazil the real costs of this renewable power has to include the cost of building, maintaining and staffing fossil fuel plants as well as additional and substantial investments in electricity transmission lines and support facilities. That is the relevant lesson about renewable power for the rest of the world.

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Kim OHara
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Re: Global Warming: Recent Data

Post by Kim OHara » Fri May 25, 2018 11:27 pm

I'm not going to take the time to answer you point by point, Leeuw2, because I'm sure most people here would simply yawn and move on to something more useful and interesting, but I will say that your data is cherry-picked (and often out of date) and your conclusions are (as usual) far too negative.
The big picture is that carbon consumption is flattening out and beginning to fall in spite of our still-growing population, and that renewables can take the credit.
Of the renewable sources, large-scale hydro is, as you say, near maximum utilisation. Geothermal is significant where it's possible, but is very localised.
Wind and solar, however, have came from almost nowhere to become major contributors to our energy supply and still have enormous potential. Their potential, in fact, is demonstrated by what they have achieved in countries which have embraced them, which is why I have celebrated those achievements here: they show us the way.
As they have grown, storage has emerged as the key to their further growth. It's probably fair to say that energy storage now is where wind and solar generation were ten years ago, i.e., we know it can be done but we've hardly started doing it. Watch this space! :twothumbsup:

:namaste:
Kim

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