JoNova

A science presenter, writer, speaker & former TV host; author of The Skeptic's Handbook (over 200,000 copies distributed & available in 15 languages).


Handbooks


Advertising


Australian Speakers Agency



GoldNerds

The nerds have the numbers on precious metals investments on the ASX



The Skeptics Handbook

Think it has been debunked? See here.

The Skeptics Handbook II

Climate Money Paper



Archives

Books

Coal is like “torture” rage Guardian, Friends of the Earth

Oops. Who hates “the environment”? Green lobbyists keep revealing  how little they care. Friends of the Earth want to categorically rule out one of the most cost effective ways to reduce our carbon emissions.  New supercritical hot burning coal plants can reduce emissions by an amazing 15%. But Friends of the Earth and The Guardian hate coal more than they care about CO2.

The green climate fund (GCF) refused an explicit ban on fossil fuel projects at the contentious meeting in Songdo, South Korea, last week.

“It’s like a torture convention that doesn’t forbid torture,” said Karen Orenstein, a campaigner for Friends of the Earth US who was at the meeting. “Honestly it should be a no-brainer at this point.” — The Guardian

Poor old solar and wind power are so useless that the debate is about whether they achieve any reductions at all.  Their intermittent power means some kind of back-up base load power source has to run on standby to pick up the pieces when they collapse. The more wind power you have, the less CO2 you save. Solar Power provides “cheaper” electricity to the rich at the expense of everyone else, and potentially [...]

New small study: Wind farms show health effects – why wasn’t this done before?

This is the tiniest of most preliminary studies on the health effects of wind turbines, but it made it to the front page of a major newspaper.  It is really just laying the groundwork for setting up a proper study.  But at the end of 2012, according to the Global Wind Energy Council, there were 225,000 wind turbines operating around the world. So the real question is why has it taken so long to do an eight week study on six people in three houses looking at the effects of very low frequency ultrasound?

The Greens and Labor Party are supposed to be concerned about the effect of industry on people and cuddly animals, so where was their angst? If wind turbines ran on uranium, or the turbines were erected in inner-city areas, would the Greens have been so quiet?

Pacific Hydro deserves credit for funding and cooperating with the study which took place at Cape Bridgewater in Victoria.

Turbines may well blow ill wind

Graham Lloyd, The Australian

PEOPLE living near wind farms face a greater risk of suffering health complaints caused by the low-frequency noise generated by turbines, a groundbreaking study has found.

Finally, a way to get energy from Wind Turbines. Burn them, make cement!

Blades being chopped for transport. | Global Cement Magazine

It’s the new alternative fuel — decommissioned turbines. There are 21,000 wind turbines in Germany alone at the moment. With 15,000 tons a year of old blades expected to be dumped by 2019, it’s a real problem to get rid of them. The EU says they can’t be dumped in landfill. Here’s the perfect solution. Chop them, shred them, then deliver the fibreglass reinforced plastic to the local cement plant. The resins hold 15MJ per kilo. “One tonne of resin saves 600 kg of coal at the cement plant!”

It’s a win-win all round. Residents get rid of the bird chopping towers, the cement plant gets energy, and the windmills may, possibly for the first time, save some CO2 for the Greens. What’s not to like?

Indeed this is recycling you can like. The raw materials in old blades can even be used in the cement too.

Wind Turbines make good alternative fuels for cement production.

Global Cement Magazine Sept 2014 page 10

[...]

The crazy world of Renewable Energy Targets

Nothing makes sense about Renewable Energy Targets, except at a “Bumper-Sticker” level. Today the AFR front page suggests* the federal government is shifting to remove the scheme (by closing it to new entrants) rather than just scaling it back. It can’t come a day too soon. Right now, the Greens who care about CO2 emissions should be cheering too. The scheme was designed to promote an  industry, not to cut CO2.

UPDATE: Mathias Cormann later says “that the government’s position was to “keep the renewable energy target in place” SMH.  Mixed messages indeed.

We’ve been sold the idea that if we subsidize “renewable” energy (which produces less CO2) we’d get a world with lower CO2 emissions. But it ain’t so. The fake “free” market in renewables does not remotely achieve what it was advertised to do — the perverse incentives make the RET good for increasing “renewables” but bad for reducing CO2, and, worse, the more wind power you have, the less CO2 you save. Coal fired electricity is so cheap that doing anything other than making it more efficient is a wildly expensive and inefficient way to reduce CO2. But the Greens hate [...]

ABC bias against coal hurts the poor and the workers: Sell the ABC

A new report shows ABC journalists are fond of renewables and overlook their dismal economic value, while putting out bad news on coal, and ignoring the benefits of vast cheap profitable energy. Who could have seen that coming: a large public funded institution attracts employees who like large public funding?

The IPA arranged for a media analysis firm to compare the ABC reporting on coal and renewables.

ABC gives the green light to renewables, and the red light to Australia’s largest export industry and provider of 75% of our electricity.

ABC accused of bias against coalmining

Andrew Fraser, The Australian

The analysis of 2359 reports broadcast on the ABC over six months before March 15 this year found 15.9 per cent of stories on coalmining and 12.1 per cent of those about coal-seam gas mining were favourable, while 53 per cent of those on renewable energy were favourable.

It also found 31.6 per cent of stories on coal mining and 43.6 per cent of stories on coal-seam gas were unfavourable, while only 10.8 per cent of stories on renewable energy were ­unfavourable.

The ABC has become its own best case for privatizing the ABC. How much could we get? The [...]

OK to kill endangered birds? Yes if you are a windfarm. Greens seem to be fine with that.

It’s one rule for you, and another for their friends. If a coal plant was wiping out thousands of birds and bats you can be sure Greenpeace would be launching a campaign. But when an industrial turbine with blade-tips travelling at 180mph does the killing, who cares?

The law for normals makes it expensive to kill birds and bats:

“Following the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in 2010, BP was fined $100 million for the damage it caused to bird populations in the area, both migratory and resident.  — AlaskaDispatch

“Exxon Mobil has agreed to pay $600,000 in penalties after approximately 85 migratory birds died of exposure to hydrocarbons at some of its natural gas facilities across the Midwest.  — NY Times

And it was going to get expensive for windfarms:

“Nov 22 2013 Duke Energy has agreed to pay a $1 million fine for killing 14 eagles and 149 other birds at two Wyoming wind farms. – audublog

That was the first time a windfarm got pinged. And it works out to be about $6000 a bird. Could get expensive, eh?

“The Fish and Wildlife Service estimated that 440,000 birds are killed [...]

Big Oil, Big-Gas lobby against coal. Shell leans on World Bank to nobble the competition

Well, well, well. When Big-Oil fund skeptics, they’re evil polluters. When Big-Oil pay green lobbyists, they’re just being good citizens (see the ads, right?). Naturally Royal Dutch Shell are concerned about the environment, families, rare marsupials and what not. They wouldn’t just be green for the profit would they… oh, wait. Shell is one of the six gas “super majors” and all gas providers profit when coal is unfashionable. In terms of resources, Shell is now more of a gas company than an oil company.

Big-Gas loves wind turbines. Wind farms are fickle and coal power can’t ramp up and down quickly to fill in the gaps, but the more expensive gas can. No wonder Shell are lobbying actively against coal, and for wind.

Thanks in part to Shell’s campaign, the poor family in the Shell Ad are going to have to pay more to stay warm this winter. Meanwhile the marsupials will manage without Shell lobbyists like they have for the last 100 million years, and the environment won’t notice any effect from a carbon tax.

As with all cut-throat business deals, Shell (and others) are doing what they are supposed to do: make money. There is nothing [...]

There goes a massive windfarm – £4bn UK project kaput before it began

More money leaves the room. Last week David Cameron said the UK needed to get rid of all that green crap (or double-speak words to that effect). The message, confounded as it is, may be getting through.

(Reuters) – German utility RWE has scrapped plans to build one of the world’s largest offshore wind parks in Britain, as soaring gas and electricity prices fuel uncertainty over the UK government’s commitment to renewable energy subsidies.

[Bloomberg] RWE’s renewable-energy unit has decided to drop a 4.5 billion-pound ($7.3 billion) offshore wind project in the U.K. because engineering challenges made it too expensive.

RWE says that it’s because of engineering challenges, but we could assume they didn’t suddenly discover how deep the water was this week.

[Bloomberg] “At the current time, it is not viable for RWE to continue” the Atlantic Array farm because of deep waters and adverse seabed conditions, RWE Innogy said in a statement on its website. The 278-turbine project in the Bristol Channel can’t be justified under “current market conditions,” it said.

Engineering challenges can usually be fixed with money. But translate “current market conditions” and we see that it was really a money [...]

Bill McKibben says wind is cheap as coal. Jo Nova says “so who needs a carbon tax then?”

Bill McKibben wants to stop a mine in Australia because it might affect the weather. He says wind power is as affordable as coal.

The Australian, Friday Oct 25:   “… we’ve reached the point where alternatives have become realistic.Wind power is now as affordable as coal-fired power in Australia, not to mention the limitless energy potential of the powerful sun that shines on your continent.”

To which I say, fantastic. If wind power is as cheap as coal, we don’t need a carbon tax, emissions trading schemes, renewable targets, or other subsidies … people will use wind simply because it is cheaper. Alternatively, Bill is talking out of his hat.

Kill the schemes, cut the subsidies. Bring it on. I say!

We can see how many people rely on Windpower in Australia

That’s the yellow part. Coal is the black or brown part.

Source: ESAA

Source: ESAA

All the assertions of “cheap wind power” are only true if we assume our CO2 emissions cause warming, amplified by water vapor and cloud changes, which causes dangerous and expensive outcomes. Furthermore we must assume that it is cheaper to mitigate rather than adapt (which it isn’t), and then assume that taxes, [...]

UK Government hides its own graphic comparing Nuclear to Wind and solar

Is this a 2013 Streisand-Effect finalist?

The UK has decided to build its first new nuclear power plant in 20 years. The UK Department of Energy & Climate Change posted this graphic below in a News Story probably to help justify why it really did make sense to go nuclear rather than renewable. The Renewable Energy Association called it “unhelpful”, and lo, it disappeared from gov.uk.

Credit goes to Emily Gosden’s Tweet, and  Will Heaven‘s Blog. Hat tip to Colin.

 

(Click to enlarge to see the fine print)

The fine print (edited out in the small copy here) says that Hickley Point C “is estimated to be equal to around 7% of UK electricity consumption in 2025 and enough to power nearly 6 million homes.” About onshore wind, the fine print reads: “The footprint will depend on the location and turbine technology deployed. DECC estimates the footprint could be between 160,000 and 490,000 acres“. That’s quite some error margin.

How many National Parks does one nuclear plant save then?

It’s a good representation of just how much of the Earths surface we have to give up if we want to live off renewables at the moment. So who [...]

Let’s copy Germany: 23,000 wind towers make 7% of its electricity to stop 0 degrees of warming

Steve Goreham describes how one of the leading Green economies works: Germany has 23,000 wind turbines, half as many as the United States but packed into one 27th of the area. Average turbines are producing 17% of their stated capacity. All up, they make 7 percent of the nation’s electricity but consume 2 percent of the nation’s energy. Crikey! There would be a PhD thesis in making sense of those numbers, because most of that consumption is in the construction phase and depends on assumptions about how long those towers will work. I’d like to see a lifetime calculation of a Joules in and Joules out. Here’s a part I can’t quite wrap my head around: total renewables share of energy consumption (so that includes oil, gas, coal, wood and the like) apparently rose from 4 percent in 2000 to 12 percent in 2012. I can see a most unfortunate meeting of two lines on a graph here…

The Big-Green-Government in Germany decreed that everyone had to pay a lot more for the holy electrons from wind and solar (those electrons have good intentions, after all). Thus and verily (and partly thanks to the angel of [...]

India threatens Wind farms with fines. They must accurately predict the wind a day in advance or else!

What the Nanny-State Goddess Giveth…

The intermittent power of wind towers plays havoc with electricity grids. Power black outs in India are so bad, they cut off the supply to 600 million or so people for two days last year. To make the grid more stable, an official somewhere decided it would help to have at least one day’s warning of how much electricity will flow from those towers.  (Why not two days I say?)

“A directive took effect this week ordering wind farms with a capacity of 10 megawatts or more to forecast their generation in 15-minute blocks for the following day. “

To put some perspective on this, here is what 7000 wind turbines across Northern Europe (between the North sea, the Baltic Sea and the Austrian-Swiss border) produced in 2004. You can admire the stable predictable output that comes from averaging so many turbines over such a large area. Right?

Percentage of peak grid power supplied by 7000 wind turbines in Northern Europe in 2004

[...]

The data is in: more Green jobs means less real ones

It’s not rocket science. If energy costs more, that means we have to make do with less of it, or make do with less of something else. Thus if the government forces everyone to pay more for electricity, companies have less spare cash to employ people. Their margins are tighter, they can’t make and sell as many products. So when we are told the clean energy revolution is creating jobs, is it virtually self-evident that’s a mythical fairy claim.

I say “virtually”, because it is theoretical possible it could work, but only if this green power provided some productivity or efficiency gain — that is, if it helped us build more widgets, bake more cakes or warm more toes. In the case of windturbines, the big hope is that they reduce emissions, lower CO2 globally, and in turn stop storms, tornados, floods and what-not and gave us perfect weather again (like the kind we never had).

Might as well bury bottles of money I say. More jobs. Less cost. No infrasound, and no dead bats.

Each green job in Britain costs £100,000 (and 3.7 other jobs):

The Telegraph points out how expensive it is to support a wind-industry job. My plan [...]

Who’s a conspiracy theorist then Paul Syvret?

Paul Syvret  seems to be hoping no one will notice that he doesn’t even try to respond to arguments about wind turbines. His technique to avoid debate is to decree that some other people were wrong once on a different topic. They used a rapid fire technique called a Gish Gallop, so therefore, thusly and henceforth anyone with a rapid fire technique can be dismissed with a handy wave of The Gish. It’s just another label in Syvret’s all-purpose excuse-list for not having a grown up conversation.

Those who have no evidence just make things up and toss insults. Syvret of The Courier Mail defends the wind industry from its critics — not with data about windfarms, but with allegations of imaginary astroturfing and denialism. He uses all his biggest scientific words: it’s “a barrage of BS”, “pseudo-science”, and a crusade run by a rat-bag in an incestuous network. He wants to make sure his readers know the critics are shills and conspiracy nutters because, well…  he says so.

The Australian Environment Foundation is his main target today. What’s it guilty of? Well, it links to unpaid bloggers that Syvret doesn’t like: those ” sites promoting climate-change denial (such as [...]

Imaginary solar panels rort renewables scheme while Alarmists “worry” about coal investors.

The Australian

ALMOST 150 suspected rorts of the Gillard government’s Renewable Energy Target scheme were reported to the regulator last year, with NSW and federal authorities assisting with the execution of two search warrants as a part of the probe.

The Clean Energy Regulator yesterday released its annual report to government on the administration of the RET — a scheme that provides certificates for both large and small-scale renewable energy generation as part of the bipartisan target of ensuring 20 per cent of Australia’s electricity comes from renewables by 2020.

The regulator’s audit report revealed that during 2012 it received 147 allegations of rorts, the majority of which related to the creation of dodgy certificates for rooftop solar panels.

So far three “monitoring warrants” have been executed by NSW and Australian Federal police. One matter is before the Federal Court as a civil prosecution. One criminal matter was heard last year.

…businessman John Testoni of Sydney Solar Eco Solutions pleading guilty to improperly creating $170,000 in RET certificates for 24 non-existent solar system installations in the Sydney area.

Fake markets just ask to be scammed. Who can forget the Spanish winter of late 2009 when 4,500Mw hours of “solar” [...]