You can be sure that there will never be net carbon emissions from electricity generation. Here’s why. – Is it good?


Francis Menton

The climate movement’s now announced goal is to achieve “zero” economy-wide carbon emissions by 2050, if not sooner. Essentially, the governments of all the most economically advanced Western countries have committed to achieving this goal in one form or another. (OK, in the EU there are a few lags among the former Soviet satellites, but then there’s still the question of how developed their economy is.). Many of these Net Zero pledge countries have even earlier targets, usually in the 2030s, to achieve Net Zero emissions from electricity generation. And the electricity generation sector is clearly the easiest part of the economy to move towards Net Zero. Surely, if all the countries with the best technology and the most sophisticated governments say that this Net Zero thing can be done in a short time in the electricity industry, it can be done and it will be done. perform.

In fact, it won’t be done. Not only will Net Zero in electricity generation not be achieved worldwide by 2050 or any time nearby, but it will also not be achieved in any individual country, regardless of commitment to the goal. Net Zero consumption that the country currently looks like . If you have any doubts about that, I suggest you look at some of the following metrics:

The whole world doesn’t have any active Net Zero demonstration projects.

It’s truly amazing how many seemingly sophisticated governments have made a commitment to Net Zero electricity that nowhere else in the world has a demonstration project that shows this can be done. how and at what cost. Historically, major innovations in energy delivery have begun with demonstration projects or prototypes that established the feasibility and cost of the effort, prior to any attempt at widespread commercialization. for a country or a full country. So in the 1880s, when Thomas Edison wanted to start building power plants at the central station to power his new devices like the incandescent light bulb, he started by building a prototype facility in London under Holborn Viaduct, and followed by a larger demonstration plant on Pearl Street in Lower Manhattan supplying only a few square blocks of electricity. Only after those have proven to be successful does the larger construction begin. Similarly, nuclear power delivery began with small government-funded prototypes in the late 1940s and early 1950s, followed by larger demonstration projects in the late 1950s and early 1950s. 1960s. It was only in the late 1960s, twenty years of effort, and after feasibility and cost had been demonstrated, that the first large-scale commercial nuclear reactors were built.

Today, there is nothing quite like it anywhere in the world and of any size, big or small, like a working wind/solar power system with complete backup free functionality. all fossil fuels, or even something like it. Some places that have tried to create outright solar/wind/storage systems have unfortunately failed, and at this point they’re not even trying to bridge the gap. back to Net Zero.

Commenters on some of my recent posts have mentioned projects on several small islands such as El Hierro (one of Spain’s Canary Islands, population about 10,000) or King Island. (off Tasmania in Australia, population about 1500). But those projects only serve to illustrate how far the short-term efforts at Net Zero have diminished, and how enormous the cost to go the rest of the way will be. I have mentioned the El Hierro project many times before, such as here and here.

El Hierro’s bottom line is that it has wind turbines with supposed “capacity” of more than twice the average demand (but operates with an annual capacity factor of less than 40%), and also has a storage facility. pump with hydro generators for more than twice the average demand, and also a backup diesel generator for more than double the average demand – three separate and redundant systems, all for a fee. And for all that, they struggle to get half their electricity from the wind/storage system, on average for the year. And they have to keep all their diesel engines in reserve, fully serviced and ready to go, at regular times, even during the strongest of wind months, when the wind doesn’t blow.

Wind/storage system operator on El Hierro, Gorona del Viento, has a website where data from the island is published (although the most recent data is from September 2021). In 2021, the island gets 28% of its electricity from the wind/storage system in January (and the rest from diesel backup), 36% in February, 48% in March, 21% in April, 77% in May, 72% in June, 81% in July, 59% in August and 34% in September. The cover of the Gorona del Viento report boasts that the island has 1293 hours in 2020 when it gets all its electricity from the wind/storage system. How shameful is that? – there are 8784 hours in a leap year like 2020.

If Net Zero emission electricity generation is achievable for a large economy like the US or Germany or the UK or Japan by 2050, or for that matter by 2035, there will be a demonstration project. are working today to achieve that goal. In fact, nothing comes close, and nothing is on the horizon.

Every wind turbine or solar panel built depends on government subsidies

The U.S. Congress just passed a massive climate subsidy bill (is it still called the Inflation Reduction Act?), which includes about $370 billion in grants of various types for “green” energy projects. ”, mainly wind and solar power generation facilities, but also things like electric cars and thermal power systems for homes. This will no doubt cause a lot of wind turbines and solar panels to be built, electric vehicles to be purchased and heat pumps installed.

But this is the rub. No one is building any wind turbines or solar panels, or any other element of this new “green” energy utopia, based on the conventional capitalist motive of making a profit by meet organic consumer demand. Crony capitalists will certainly emerge to build something to collect subsidies, but they have no particular incentive to put together all the elements of a working system. Who has that motivation? No one, except maybe the central planners of the government – a category that has never been successful in world history.

For a few examples of impending bottlenecks, here’s a snippet from something called Conversations from August 19, headline “Big new impetus for clean energy is not enough – the Inflation Reduction Act is just the first step, now the hard work begins,” by Daniel Cohan of Rice University. Cohan points to one missing element after another of the supposedly upcoming new green energy system, each of which will require massive new government subsidies:

Solar and wind farms wouldn’t be built without enough power lines to connect their electricity to customers. The captured carbon and clean hydrogen wouldn’t get very far without the pipeline. Too few contractors are trained to install heat pumps. And electric car buyers will have to think twice if there aren’t enough charging stations.

And so on and so forth, and so forth… When gasoline-powered cars became commonplace in the early 1900s, thousands of businessmen got into action without government subsidies of any kind. any way, to set up gas stations around the country to keep the car running. Now, people are waiting for government grants that may or may not come, or may not be enough, to set up toll stations. Suppose the National Assembly will pass with hundreds of billion more in subsidies as soon as it is needed for all of this (and twenty more things that no one has thought of), along with a bureaucracy that knows how to coordinate it all. . No government has that level of capacity, or never will.

We are watching Europe achieve a green energy wall in real time

Major countries in Europe, such as Germany and the UK, are now rising to the position that El Hierro has been in since its system opened in 2014. That is, Germany and the UK have a lot of wind capacity and Solar energy “has a name”. generators to provide all the electricity they need when the wind blows and the sun shines, even excess in windy and sunny times. But they don’t have a fossil fuel-free plan for times of frequent wind and low sun. This problem cannot be solved by building more wind and solar power facilities.

Here is a latest report from the UK from City Morning, August 17:

Based on current projections, clean energy expert Squeaky has calculated that UK industry could be hit with a £49.2 billion bill for combined wholesale gas and electricity costs in 2020. 2023. Overall, this is a 260% increase over the industry’s energy bill in 2021.

The increase in consumer prices for electricity and gas is even higher in percentage terms. And here’s the latest from Germany, from something called Local, August 17:

Coal is experiencing a comeback on several fronts in Europe’s top economy. The burgeoning Russian gas shortage following the Ukraine war has rekindled enthusiasm for this private home heating method despite its scum and heavy carbon footprint.

No one in Europe is thinking about non-fossil fuel contingency planning for Net Zero power generation.

So, if you have a chance to bet, you are extremely safe to bet on Net Zero generation anytime during your lifetime.

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