Archive for the ‘propaganda’ Category

The Renewable Energy Transition

July 11, 2019

The Australian Greens’ number one aim in their Climate Change and Energy Policy is:

“Net zero or net negative Australian greenhouse gas emissions by no later than 2040.”

And the Lowy Institute believes that Australia can set an example for the rest of the world.  In their article ‘An Australian model for the renewable-energy transition’ published on 11 March 2019, they assert that across the world “A very rapid transition to renewables is in process” and that “Most countries can follow the Australian path and transition rapidly to renewables with consequent large avoidance of future greenhouse emissions.”

Time for a reality check.

In this assessment I use energy consumption and carbon dioxide emissions data from the 2019 BP Statistical Review of World Energy.

First of all, greenhouse gas emissions.  In the BP Review,

…carbon emissions … reflect only those through consumption of oil, gas and coal for combustion related activities, and are based on ‘Default CO2 Emissions Factors for Combustion’ listed by the IPCC in its Guidelines for National Greenhouse Gas Inventories (2006).  This does not allow for any carbon that is sequestered, for other sources of carbon emissions, or for emissions of other greenhouse gases. Our data is therefore not comparable to official national emissions data.

Excluded sources would include for example cement production and land clearing.  However, given that we are focussing on the transition away from fossil fuels towards renewables, that is not a problem.

Figure 1 shows the growth in carbon dioxide emissions (from fossil fuels) since 1965.

Fig. 1: Global CO2 emissions in millions of Tonnes

CO2 emissions global

The big hitters are China, the USA, and India, who together account for more than half of the world total.

Fig. 2: CO2 emissions by the Big Three and the rest

CO2 emissions top3 rest

Note that America’s emissions peaked in 2007 and have since declined.  China’s emissions rose rapidly from 2002 to 2013.  From a low base, India’s emissions growth rate is practically exponential.

Figure 3 shows how Australia “compares”.

Fig. 3: CO2 emissions by the Big Three and Australia

CO2 emissions top3 Oz

Australia’s emissions from fossil fuels peaked in 2008.

The BP Review’s CO2 emissions data are based on fossil fuel combustion, so I now look at energy consumption since 1965.  Energy units are million tonnes of oil equivalent (MTOE), from the BP Review, “Converted on the basis of thermal equivalence assuming 38% conversion efficiency in a modern thermal power station.”

Fig. 4: Global energy consumption by fuel type in millions of tonnes of oil equivalent

World energy cons 65 to 18

(Note:

Apart from 2009 (the GFC) gas has risen steadily, especially the last five years.

Since the oil shocks of the seventies and early eighties and apart from the GFC, oil has mostly enjoyed a steady rise.

Coal consumption increased rapidly from 2002 to 2013 (mostly due to Chinese expansion) followed by a small decrease to 2016.

Hydro power has seen a steady increase.

Nuclear power peaked in 2006 and declined slightly before increasing over the last six years.

Wind and Solar are in the bottom right hand corner.  Both are increasing rapidly but are dwarfed by other forms of energy.)

How close are we to the renewable energy transition?  Figures 5 to 9 show 1965 – 2018 energy consumption for conventional sources (fossil fuels plus hydro and nuclear) and the total.  The gap between conventional and total energy use is filled by renewables OF ALL TYPES- solar, wind, geothermal, bio-waste (e.g. sugar cane bagasse), and bio-mass used for electricity production, (but excluding firewood, charcoal, and dung).  I have highlighted the gaps with a little green arrow.

Fig. 5: Total and conventional energy consumption in millions of tonnes of oil equivalent

World energy cons 65 to 18 fossil hydro nuclear

In 2018, renewables of all types accounted for just 4.05% of the world’s energy, fossil fuels 83.7%.  So much for rapid transition to renewables.

The next three plots show energy consumption of the big emitters.

Fig. 6: Total and conventional energy consumption- China

CO2 emissions China

4.38% of Chinese energy came from renewables in 2018.  Nuclear and hydro power have increased enormously over the past 15 years and make up 10.35% of usage but fossil fuels (mostly coal) make up 85.3% of energy consumption.

Fig. 7: Total and conventional energy consumption- USA

CO2 emissions USA

Renewables accounted for 4.51% of US energy.  Fossil fuel and total energy consumption peaked in 2007 but has recently started increasing mostly due to gas and oil use.   (Coal has slipped from more than a quarter of the fossil fuel total in 2007 to less than a sixth in 2018.)  Fossil fuels make up 84.3% of energy use.

Fig. 8: Total and conventional energy consumption- India

CO2 emissions India

Only 3.4% of India’s energy comes from renewables.  India’s energy consumption is growing very rapidly, and 91.6% of consumption is from fossil fuels.

What of Australia, supposedly setting an example for the rest of the world to follow?

Fig. 9: Total and conventional energy consumption- Australia

CO2 emissions Australia

After years of building solar and wind farms, and at enormous expense, renewable energy of all types accounts for just 5% of Australia’s energy use- and the Greens aim to have zero net emissions in 21 years from now.

In the past 10 years, renewable consumption has increased by 5.5 million tonnes of oil equivalent- but fossil fuels have increased by 6.4 million tonnes.  While coal use has dropped by 12 million tonnes, this has been more than replaced by 18.4 million tonnes of oil and gas.  That’s not much of a rapid transition.

Figure 10 shows in order renewables consumption in all countries.  Remember, this includes all types including geothermal energy and bio-mass.

Fig. 10: Comparative penetration of renewables

Renewable cons %

Australia at 5 % renewable consumption is 19th and ahead of the big emitters, the USA, China, and India.

Perhaps the Extinction Rebellion activists who are unhappy with lack of action against climate change in Germany, the UK, and Australia, could glue themselves to the roadways in China, India, or Russia.

There is no rapid renewable energy transition.   Oil, coal, and gas are cheap and readily available and are powering growth in developing economies.  At some time in the future there will not be enough accessible fossil fuel to sustain the world’s economies alone; uranium too will one day be in short supply.  However, necessity and technological innovation, not legislation, will drive the adoption of alternative fuels.

Rumours of the imminent death of fossil fuels appear to be greatly exaggerated (with apologies to Mark Twain).

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Replicating Lewis et. al. (2017): Another Junk Paper

October 9, 2017

The recently released scarey predictions about “50 degree temperatures for Sydney and Melbourne” touted by Sophie Lewis are hardly worth wasting time on.  The paper is

Australia’s unprecedented future temperature extremes under Paris limits to warming, Sophie C. Lewis , Andrew D. King  and Daniel M. Mitchel, (no publication details available).

The paper is junk.  It has some very sciencey sounding words but is at heart pure speculation.  Like most “projections” by Global Warming Enthusiasts, the predictions are untestable.  Scarey temperatures are possible IF (and only if) IPCC scenarios are valid and we get either 1.5C or 2C warming by the last decade of the century.  That’s what the paper rests on.

The paper looks at Australian summer means, Coral Sea autumn means, and New South Wales and Victorian daily January maxima.  AWAP data are used for Australia and NSW and Victoria, and HadCruT4 for the Coral Sea region (which includes most of Queensland).

I have just looked at Australian Summer Means, and that was enough for me.  Lewis et.al. say that the decadal mean from 2091-2100 may have Australia wide summer means of 2 to 2.4 degrees above the mean of 2012-13, or 30.1 to 30.5C, with resultant very high daily maxima in southern cities.

I could have saved them the trouble, and at considerably less cost.

All I needed was the AWAP data for summer means (I purchased monthly AWAP data up to 2013 a couple of years ago), and plotted it with a 2nd order polynomial (quadratic) trend line:

lewis predictions summers1

And also showing decadal means (although the first and last decades have several missing summers):

lewis predictions summers2

There: the trend line goes smack through the higher (+2 degrees) projection, so it must be right!

Only trouble is, extrapolating with a quadratic trend is not a good idea. Lots can go wrong in the meantime.

So my plot is about as useful as the Lewis et.al. paper, and that’s not much.

The Myth of Fossil Fuel Subsidies- Ignorance, Misinformation, and Blatant Lies

April 20, 2016

If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it.”

This idea, usually attributed to Joseph Goebbels, is central to propaganda and misinformation in all societies, not merely Nazi or Stalinist states.   It raises its ugly head in multiple ways in our otherwise enlightened society, not least in the propaganda spread by the Green movement.  Big lies, smaller lies, misinformation, ignorant assumptions passed off as truth, and illogical arguments, all feature in the call for an end to ‘taxpayer subsidies’ for fossil fuels.

The Australian Greens and their acolytes have been very vocal about ending fossil fuel ‘subsidies’.  A quick internet search reveals a green-sponsored organisation called Market Forces http://www.marketforces.org.au/ which has been promoting this meme.

Time for a Reality Check.

Ignorance: 

From the Market Forces website:

“How your taxes subsidise fossil fuels

There are a number of national tax-based subsidies that encourage fossil fuel production and consumption, adding up to a huge total of around $12 billion each year.

By far the largest contributor to the tax-based subsidies total is the Fuel Tax Credit Scheme, which provides around $6 billion worth of credits and grants to cover the tax paid on fuel to reduce its overall costs to heavy users. It is estimated that some 20% of these fuel tax credits go directly to fossil fuel producers. We have included the full amount as it all goes to supporting the consumption of fossil fuels.”

From the ATO:

“Fuel tax credits provide businesses with a credit for the fuel tax (excise or customs duty) that’s included in the price of fuel used in:

machinery

plant

equipment

heavy vehicles

light vehicles travelling off public roads or on private roads.

The amount depends on when you acquire the fuel, what fuel you use and the activity you use it in….

Some fuels and activities are not eligible including fuel you use in light vehicles of 4.5 tonnes gross vehicle mass (GVM) or less, travelling on public roads.”

People who have never operated a business are unaware that these are tax credits for the expenses of operating businesses, in particular transport and off-road equipment.  Transport costs directly contribute to the cost of living, particularly in more remote areas, so tax credits are in effect a subsidy for ordinary Australians.  The fuel excise that we all pay was designed to raise money for road maintenance- including the roads that electric cars and bicycles use.  Operators of equipment that doesn’t use roads- farm and mining equipment, fishing boats, industrial plant, the things that actually earn money for the economy– should not have to subsidise the taxes of everybody else.

Market forces also nominate as “Subsidies for fossil fuels” Accelerated Depreciation concessions and concessional excise on avgas and jet fuel.  However aircraft don’t use roads either, and accelerated depreciation assists all business reinvestment- not just for petrol vehicles.  If you buy an electric car for business use, you can claim accelerated depreciation on it as well.

The people behind Market Forces are merely displaying their ignorance about running a business and how the economy actually works for their benefit.

Misinformation:

“Public finance for fossil fuels

The Australian government continues to support the expansion of the fossil fuel industry by using public funds to finance fossil fuel companies and projects.

…..

EFIC is Australia’s ECA, which is a semi-governmental financial institutions that provides loans, insurance and guarantees to support the international operations of local companies, or to projects that hold some national value. ECAs often lend far more than commercial banks and offer long-term, low-interest debt that makes a project much more bankable.

While EFIC doesn’t lend to local coal projects, it loaned over $1 billion to the massive Ichthys LNG project of the coast of Northern Australia at the end of 2012.

On top of this, EFIC provided a total of more than $400 million in finance to national and international fossil fuel projects in 2013 and 2014.

……

Australia also holds shares and plays a significant role in two IFIs, otherwise known as multilateral development banks, the World Bank Group and the Asian Development Bank. Through Australia’s involvement in these institutions, we have contributed a total of almost $300 million worth of finance to the global fossil fuel industry over the past two years.”

This is misinformation.  Loans have to be repaid at some point in the future so should be regarded as cost neutral over the long term.  As well, these projects promote much infrastructure other than “huge, dirty coal power developments”.

The Greens appear to be against not just fossil fuels, but any development that might be good for the human race- roads, railways, ports, electricity, all mining, mechanised agriculture- which the people of underdeveloped nations desperately need.

Finally, Blatant Lies:

Market Forces also identifies “direct handouts”:

“Direct contributions and handouts to the fossil fuel industry

There are a number of federal and state bodies and initiatives that directly contribute to the expansion and continuation of the local fossil fuel industry….

Geoscience Australia is a government body that engages in fossil fuel exploration activities as one of its major operations. With a specific focuses (sic) on offshore reserve development, Geoscience Australia also provides exploration data and other support to fossil fuel companies.

This federal government institution devotes $29 billion dollars to exploration annually, and this figure is added to by extra funding from within the national budget.”

$29 billion dollars?  You’d think somebody might have noticed!

From the Geoscience Australia website:

“Geoscience Australia is Australia’s pre-eminent public sector geoscience organisation. We are the nation’s trusted advisor on the geology and geography of Australia. We apply science and technology to describe and understand the Earth for the benefit of Australia.”

The 2014-15 Annual Report for Geoscience Australia shows expenditure of $198.8 million, offset by revenue of $59.2 million- a long way short of $29 billion!  And that $198.8 million is spent on many other projects besides minerals exploration, of which fossil fuel exploration is one part.

This is a blatant lie, and a big one.

Continuing:

“… capital injections to state-owned electricity generators. In 2014, these injections totalled more than $600 million”  in Queensland and Western Australia.

The authors fail to mention the millions in dividends that the Queensland government has stripped out of electricity providers over the past few years- does this mean Queensland taxpayers are being subsidised by fossil fuel?  From ABC News (7 October 2015):

“The Energex annual report, released last week, shows dividends paid to the State Government rose from $406 million in 2014 to $1.3 billion in the 2014-2015 financial year.

Alliance of Electricity Consumers lobby group spokesman Jonathan Pavetto told 612 ABC Brisbane Ergon dividends rose from $400 million to $1.9 billion over the same period.”

It seems the government got its money back.

Market Forces goes on to claim:

“The worst offender, Queensland, has spent over $2.2 billion of public money over the past two years on rail and port infrastructure, much of which supports fossil fuels and coal exportation in particular.”

None of this money (apart from routine maintenance) has been spent on coal lines- none have been built in the past five years.  The Greens and their sympathisers are very fond of public transport, especially electric trains.  $4.4 billion is to be spent from 2013 to 2018 on suburban trains for the south east corner around Brisbane.  More than $170 million was spent on the existing Citytrain network in 2014-15 alone, plus the new line to Redcliffe worth $1147 million, $300 million contributed by the Queensland government.  Queensland Rail’s 2014-15 Annual Report lists considerable expenditure on regional lines- not the coal network- replacing bridges and improving track.

Rail and port expenditure can be regarded as an investment meant to raise more than is spent.  Queensland’s mineral rail lines for years have subsidised passenger services, including the Citytrain network in Brisbane.  QR made a profit of $223 million in 2014-15- very largely due to mineral freight traffic.  A dividend of $179 million is payable to the Queensland government in 2016.

As Government owned corporations, all ports “operate according to commercial principles, raise their own revenue and make dividend and tax equivalent payments to the Queensland Government.”  The same applies to Queensland Rail.  Investment in coal terminals is a commercial investment decision, not a subsidy or a handout.  Taxpayers can expect to get their money back.

Far from taxpayers subsidising fossil fuels, coal and gas extraction subsidises taxpayers through mining royalties, rail freight and port charges, and taxes.

Conclusion:

The Market Forces website is full of the misinformation, ignorance, and outright lies that Global Warming Enthusiasts delight in using.

But what else can you expect from an organisation that is an affiliate of Friends of the Earth, and many of whose team have backgrounds with Greenpeace and the Greens.