‘Green Breakdown: The Coming Renewable Energy Failure’ by Steve Goreham, New Lenox Books (IL, USA), 2023. A review by Michael J Kelly FRS FREng
This is simply the best book I have read on the specific current set of global issues around climate change mitigation and energy policy. It is simply a must for everyone to read, and especially for those who advocate the green agenda. In my opinion, the latter have time now to repent their sins and to escape the worst of great retribution that will inevitably come when things go badly wrong.
To date more than $15 trillion has been wasted in efforts to switch to zero-carbon processes with little gained in energy-system performance, reliability or reduction in real pollution.
The earlier chapters of this book summarise the gains made for humanity by the abundance of cheap energy over the last two hundred years, the problems posed by alleged future climate change, leading to the current war on hydrocarbons and the nirvana of 100% renewables. The next chapters start to throw up the immense problems associated with domestic energy (I much prefer cooking with gas than electricity), electric vehicles in winter and cold climates, and our reliance on shipping and aviation for many of our essentials in life. Global heavy industry simply cannot survive on renewables or/and hydrogen.
Until now the book follows a familiar story, but it has two strong advantages over the competition: (i) the best ever collection of relevant hard data and trends on the all the topics and (ii) truly comical inserts drawn from the media, such as the report on the last page from Fox News that a New York Times essay says “You Should Mate with Short People to Save the Planet”!
The highly distinctive part of the book is the last two chapters, entitled ominously “Energy Crisis and the Seeds of Failure” and “Green Breakdown and the Future”. The former contains a detailed analysis of the 2022 global energy crisis, caused by widespread weather extremes and greatly exacerbated by consequences of the Russian attack on Ukraine. Europe got through this crisis by the thinnest of margins. One box entitled “The Destruction of European Industry” shows cascading effects whereby the low level of the Danube prevented coal barges from restocking coal-fired power stations, and the consequential forced load-shedding of vital industries.
The last chapter shows how, when we are further down the track of renewables without dispatchable back-up for electricity, a repeat of 2022 will be truly catastrophic for humankind, visiting on us now with certainty what the climate alarmists are promising in the great distant future, namely a global societal breakdown, likely before 2040 if the same collection of problems coalesce again – severe weather, international conflict and a global energy system on the brink of instability.
I can only add the speculation that, when the time comes, we will need the equivalent of the Nuremburg trials to apportion blame and secure damages for those hardest hit: the poor round the world.
Germany and Australia share delusional obsessions with wind and solar power; but they also share a desperate demand for reliable coal-fired power. Hidden from sight, both Germany and Australia have recognised (albeit a little too late) that the only way of delivering 24 x 365 power, whatever the weather at prices everyone can afford is by using coal-fired power plants.
As to Germany, Bridget Ryder take a look at moves by Germany’s RWE to demolish wind turbines to allow it to access more of Germany’s brown coal. That move doesn’t sit with the narrative about Germany transitioning to an all wind and sun powered future.
Nor does the next story from The Australian. Where reality is pressing upon those who claim that Australia is already well on its way to running on nothing but sunshine and breezes.
China and Germany: Firing Up Coal Power While Wind Takes a Back Seat The European Conservative Bridget Ryder 9 September 2023
Germany is dismantling a wind farm to make way for more coal mining, while China is on a spree to open new coal mines.
So goes the global push for renewable energy and decarbonisation, another sign of the reality check facing the proposed energy transition away from fossil fuels to ‘renewable’ energy such as wind.
The German energy giant RWE announced in October 2022 that it was removing a wind farm to expand its open lignite mine in the region of North Rhine-Westphalia. The first wind turbine has already been felled, and another seven are slated to be removed. The company will then have room to excavate some 15-20 million tonnes of lignite.
Lignite, also called brown coal, is the least efficient and therefore the most carbon-emitting form of coal. But it’s also abundant in western Germany, and according to the German government, it’s needed now more than ever.
The German government and RWE brokered the expansion of the lignite mine last fall because of the energy crisis engendered by the war in Ukraine and Germany’s subsequent loss of the Russian gas and oil it had relied on.
In exchange for permission from the German government to expand lignite mining for the moment, the company promised to ultimately phase out coal in 2030, eight years before the previous deadline.
With that caveat, the German government touted the deal as “a good day for climate protection,” though it seems there is little reason to believe that it wouldn’t once again prolong coal mining in 2030 should the need remain.
In fact, Germany’s attempt at switching to wind-sourced energy has proven a disaster. It is already far behind on its goals while facing increasing resistance from local communities to the installation of wind parks.
In another example of the schizophrenic tension between environmental rhetoric and political-economic reality, China has also abandoned its pledges to cut back on coal and has instead embarked on a coal burning spree.
In raw numbers, in the first six months of 2023, China approved 52 gigawatt (GW) of new coal power, began construction on 37 GW of new coal power, announced 41 GW of new projects, and revived 8 GW of previously shelved projects. About half of the plants permitted in 2022 had started construction by summer. One gigawatt of energy is equivalent to one large coal-fired power plant.
While not as ambitious as the EU, China has pledged to level off CO2 emissions by 2030 and reach net zero in carbon emissions by 2061.
But most tellingly, according to analysts, the coal-powered projects are largely being approved where there is already excess coal-fired power. This indicates that China is prioritising economic recovery and energy security over ecology.
“There is more development than there is need for development,” Cory Combs, an analyst at Trivium China, said. “When we look at it from an energy security perspective, they [provincial-level governments] are putting an extremely high premium on short-term energy security. I don’t mean systemic issues; [I mean] even making sure there’s not even a two-hour power shortage. That’s taken over everything else, including the financials, but certainly decarbonisation.” The European Conservative
Australia must slow coal exits to safeguard affordability Alinta Energy CEO urges The Australian Colin Packham 15 September 2023
Australia must slow the closures of coal power stations to prevent surging power bills damaging households and businesses already battling a cost of living crisis, the head of the country’s fourth largest electricity and gas retailer has urged.
Australia has set an ambitious target of having renewable energy generate more than 80 per cent of the country’s power needs by 2030, a central pillar in the country’s plan to be net zero by 2050.
In comments that will intensify debate about the cost of the energy transition, Jeff Dimery – chief executive of Alinta Energy – said slowing the closures of coal power stations must be prioritised or households will endure more and more pain.
“I think we must slow down the pace of closing existing coal power stations a little bit. We are very good at taking higher emitting baseload generation out of the system but not so great at replacing it, and the economic signal is not strong enough at this time,” Mr Dimery told The Australian.
“Let’s not increase the burden on the consumer because prices are rising.”
Australia is battling a cost of living crisis that is weighing on support for the federal Labor government, but there is growing pressure on the country to achieve its net zero aspirations.
Mr Dimery said Alinta shares the government‘s ambitions but said there is undeniable evidence of the economic toll of rising prices.
“We have millions of people relying on subsidies and support to pay their energy bills, and I agree we had to do it but we can‘t be subsidising forever,” said Mr Dimery.
The Australian Energy Regulator in June revealed the number of households on hardship payment plans to repay electricity bills surged by 19 per cent during the first quarter of 2023, underscoring the impact of recent increases in bills.
The surge came before many households endured an increase of more than 20 per cent, the second such rise in as many years.
The comments came as Mr Dimery shared the stage with Prime Minister Anthony Albanese at News Corp’s Future Energy event in Sydney.
Coal is still the dominant source of electricity in Australia, with the 20GW of capacity accounting for about 60 per cent of the country’s power. To replace coal, however, Australia will need to build significantly more capacity than the amount of coal already in the system due to the intermittent source of renewable energy.
The government believes the transition to renewable energy can be accelerated by building new transmission lines.
About 10,000km of new lines must be built before 2030, but their development has been hampered by funding constraints and community opposition.
The federal government has said its $20bn Rewiring the Nation, which offers cheap loans and concessional finance to transmission developers, will break the bottleneck.
Mr Dimery, however, said Alinta supports the build for transmission lines, but the costs will eventually flow through to consumers – and when comparing new renewable energy projects – it must be done on a like-for-like basis. The Australian
In Hot Off The Press I reported on a Guardian article that appeared on 30th May this year, seeking to spin a survey on heat pumps. To my mind, the survey was much more equivocal regarding satisfaction with heat pumps than the Guardian piece suggested. Well, now they’re at it again, with another article, with the heading “Heat pumps twice as efficient as fossil fuel systems in cold weather, study finds” and sub-heading “Doubts about whether heat pumps work well in subzero conditions shown to be unfounded, say researchers”. The article is based on a study with the title “Coming in from the cold: Heat pump efficiency at low temperatures”.
The article claims that research shows heat pumps to be more than twice as efficient as fossil fuels at low temperatures, out-performing oil and gas heating systems even at temperatures as low as -30C. The UK is falling behind with regard to the heat pump roll-out (you can say that again), and it’s because people have been scared by false information regarding their efficacy at low temperatures. We are also told:
The UK government is consulting on proposals for incentives to households to take up heat pumps, which at about £7,000 or more can cost two or three times as much up front as gas boilers. Boiler companies are also to be penalised if they fail to sell enough heat pumps, under a “market-based mechanism” that will require them to sell a certain quota of heat pumps or pay a penalty.
Some proponents of gas boilers have railed against the quota, which they claim will add costs to consumers, and at least one boiler company has responded by telling customers that the price of new gas boilers is likely to go up as a result of this green measure.
The second of those two paragraphs is more than a little strange, carrying with it the implication that the proponents of gas boilers and “at least one boiler company” are somehow behaving badly in making such claims, since it’s abundantly obvious that the “claims” (note the loaded language) are clearly correct.
Be that as it may, we should look at the survey which provided the hook on which the Guardian hangs yet another heat pump article. It was published on 11th September 2023, and has four co-authors. The first named are Duncan Gibb, “a senior advisor at the Regulatory Assistance Project (RAP), a global team of highly skilled energy experts with a focus on heat decarbonization policy”, and Jan Rosenow, also of RAP. RAP, according to its website is “an independent, global, non-governmental organization advancing policy innovation and thought leadership within the energy community.” Independent, perhaps, but with a very definite interest in pushing things like heat pumps:
For more than three decades, RAP has been a leader in developing solutions to the world’s most pressing power sector challenges. In the next five years RAP will focus on key policy areas to drive a more efficient and equitable decarbonized energy future and to ensure a sustainable and just transition: Accelerate electrification of buildings and transportation; accelerate the phaseout of gas infrastructure; remove barriers to distributed energy resources; and decarbonize the electric grid.
The two other authors are Dr Richard Lowes (also of RAP) and Professor Neil Hewitt, Head of School at the Belfast School of Architecture and Built Environment at Ulster University.
All four gentlemen are highly qualified and knowledgeable about heat pumps. I think it’s probably also fair to say that they are all rather keen on decarbonisation generally, and heat pumps specifically. Not that this in any way invalidates their research and findings, but when analysing their study, I think it’s worth bearing in mind that they may start with a predisposition to encourage heat pump take-up.
As the introductory paragraph makes clear, the object of the study is to analyse “field studies with real-world performance data of air-source heat pumps” with a view to responding to the suggestion “that heat pumps cannot deliver useful efficiencies at lower temperatures.” Perhaps I am being unkind, but it seems to me that the starting-point is to seek evidence that will help to debunk criticism of the efficacy of heat pumps when the temperature is very low (i.e. precisely when a good heating system is most needed). In the words of the authors, their “commentary responds to this question”. And this is the conclusion:
It finds that well below 0°C, heat pump efficiency is still significantly higher than fossil fuel and electric resistive heating systems at an appliance level. The standard heat pumps investigated in this commentary demonstrate suitable coefficients of performance for providing efficient heating during cold winters where temperatures rarely fall below −10°C, i.e., most of Europe.
I accept that finding at face value, of course. However, there are issues that suggest that notwithstanding the findings, heat pumps really are not the answer for many UK householders, though the study does not mention these, or at least, insofar as it does, it doesn’t draw that conclusion. The first issue is with regard to the price of gas and electricity for UK domestic consumers. A quick visit to a price comparison website suggests that electricity in the UK currently costs domestic consumers somewhere between 26.6p and 28.67p per Kwh, with an across-the-board daily standing charge of 42p. For gas, the daily standard charge is set at two-thirds that level, at 28p. However, the Kwh charge is much cheaper, with prices ranging from 6.46p to 7.21p. Roughly speaking then, electricity is around four times as expensive as gas to use, with a daily charge that is 50% higher. Ignoring the costs of changing a gas boiler for a heat pump (though in the real world, such a cost is all too relevant), installing a heat pump would seem to make sense for most householders only if a heat pump’s efficiency was four times greater than the efficiency of a gas boiler (all other things being equal). Does the study find this to be the case? This is the finding:
Heat pump efficiency is measured by the device’s coefficient of performance (COP), the ratio of the useful heat outputted to energy consumed. Typical COP values for heat pumps lie in the range of 3–6, indicating that 3 to 6 units of heat are created from each unit of electricity used. A year-round average COP of 3–4 is common for household applications.
If I understand it correctly, the COP of a standard gas boiler is around 0.9 (see, e.g. here). And so, all things being equal (except that they’re not), at first blush the heat pump might seem to pass that test. But even then there’s a problem:
The temperature difference between a heat pump’s source (the outside air) and sink (heating supply location) plays a determining role in the COP and, therefore, its overall performance. If the source temperature dips and the sink temperature is maintained, the COP falls. Around freezing temperatures, air-source heat pumps also can experience a reduction in COP due to the defrosting of external components.
That “year-round average COP of 3–4” for heat pumps is just that – a year-round average. In warm summer weather (when the heat pump is little-used, if it is used at all), the COP will be above that figure. And in cold winter weather (when the heating source is most urgently required) the COP will be below that figure – and the colder it gets, the lower the COP will be. In fact, we are told:
When the outside temperature was between 5°C and −10°C, the mean COP across all systems was 2.74 and the median was 2.62, sufficient to meet heating loads at much higher efficiency than fossil heating and electric resistance heat alternatives.
Below 0°C, the COP maintains a level well above 2 in all cases, meaning that an air-source heat pump would operate at more than twice the efficiency of combustion or resistive electric heating technology.
Thus, even though heat pumps do “demonstrate suitable coefficients of performance for providing efficient heating during cold winters”, and even though they may be wonders of efficiency, they will still be significantly more expensive than gas boilers to use in winter for the average UK householder (up to twice as expensive).
The study seeks to justify the underlying theme that heat pumps are fine in cold countries, by including statistics demonstrating high heat pump penetration in Estonia and in Scandinavian countries. But we are told nothing about energy pricing in those countries, and the authors go on to concede that “[t]he data do not provide insights about the achieved efficiency of those heat pumps” while nevertheless optimistically inferring that “the large share of household installations suggests that heat pumps can effectively provide heating in colder climates.”
Perhaps the optimistic inference is justified, but in order to establish that, we would need to know much more about the nature of the housing stock in those countries compared to the state of the UK’s housing stock. Surprisingly perhaps, I can see scarcely any attention paid to this issue at all. Instead, there is an almost throwaway remark to the effect that:
In any case, to mitigate the impact of peak heating loads on energy systems, efforts can be made toward improving the performance of the building stock to minimize load and level off heating demand peaks, as well as encourage demand response.
And as to the claim that “that heat pumps can be successfully installed in these conditions without concerns over performance or the need for back-up heating capacity”, that is subject to this rather important, but casually mentioned caveat:
This is subject to thorough heating system design and a high-quality installation in a building.
Further, as I mentioned above, all things are not equal when comparing heat pumps with gas boilers. Much of the UK’s housing stock is old and badly insulated. Much of it would need expensive works to be implemented before heat pumps could be installed and provide adequate heating. As the Homebuilding website I referred to above says:
Ultimately, if you opt for a heat pump rather than a gas boiler, you will need to size the radiators and/or UFH pipe lengths very precisely.You will also need to be able to control the speed of the water in the circuit as well as the delivery of heat to the circuit. The balance is critical and certainly not always possible in older or ‘energy hungry’ properties.
So, if you ask yourself ‘should I swap my gas boiler for a heat pump?’, you need to be aware that you’ll likely need to update your existing radiators and pipework, as well as your heat source, in an existing home.
The study concludes with a statement that the authors declare no competing interests, but also with an acknowledgement that “[t]his work was funded by a grant by the Crux Alliance.” Of course, the source of funding doesn’t invalidate the study’s findings, but it’s perhaps worth noting that the Crux Alliance (as its website puts it) is:
…a group of globally recognized, technically expert organizations that are laser-focused on advancing policies—unbiased, pragmatic, and localized—to generate powerful action in the countries and sectors that matter most for carbon reduction. The members of the Crux Alliance, known as Crux Policy Centers (CPCs), support policymakers around the world working to retire polluting power plants and to replace polluting vehicles, factories, and buildings with low-carbon alternatives—and to grow these alternatives at speed and scale. The Crux Alliance is all about getting climate policy right, right now.
In other words, it might not be too unfair to say that it has a policy position that is probably keen to encourage (among other things) the uptake of heat pumps.
As I see it, the study makes the case that heat pumps can work in cold temperatures, and that in some countries with cold winters they are widely used. It does not go on to make the case that it makes financial (or any other) sense to encourage a large-scale swapping of gas boilers for heat pumps in the UK, with its often inappropriate housing stock, expensive electricity (compared to the price of domestic gas) and high up-front costs. I see nothing in it to justify the tenor of the Guardian article reporting on it, to the effect that the UK should “bring in new measures to roll them [heat pumps] out as rapidly as possible.”
“Peak Oil” refers to the hypothetical point at which global crude oil production will hit its maximum rate, after which production will start to decline. At the forthcoming COP 28 conference in Dubai, a major agenda item will concern whether all parties to the Framework Convention on Climate Change will commit to curtail financing of new hydrocarbons development, thus aiding to advance the arrival of “peak oil”.
The International Energy Agency June 2023 Oil Report projected global oil demand to peak “before the end of the decade”.
The exact size of the global oil resource is not definitely known. Experience over many years has shown that initial resource estimates have been continually revised upwards as new discoveries are made, fields are better delineated and new technologies applied. It is important to understand the terminology. Oil reserves are the amount of crude oil a country or region has that can be economically produced with current technology. Oil resources include oil reserves plus the quantities of oil in the ground that are considered either “conventional” (susceptible to development through well bores using minimal stimulation) and “unconventional” (resources whose development also require multistage hydraulic fracturing or other advanced extraction techniques).
Current estimates are that global oil reserves are between 1.4 trillion barrels and 1.73 trillion barrels. The world has a reserve to production (R/P) ratio of somewhere between 38 and 46 (i.e. 38 to 46 years of production at current rates left).
There is a widespread international effort to find and develop more oil. According to a June 2023 report by Energy Monitor, there are now 47 countries with planned new oil and gas fields.
In 2012, the United States Geological Survey assessed undiscovered oil and gas resources. For undiscovered, technically recoverable oil resources, the mean total for the world was 565.3 billion barrels of crude oil. There remains a large potential for increasing oil production from existing fields by improving the recovery factor, or RF (the percentage of initial oil in place that is recovered through better technologies). The average RF from mature fields around the world is somewhere between 20% and 40%. The means to do this now are a combination of enhanced oil recovery (EOR) and improved oil recovery (IOR). Using combinations of EOR and IOR technologies it has been possible to achieve RF’s of 50% and 70% for some fields. In other words, in many cases it is possible to almost double the recovery factor, thus potentially doubling the existing conventional oil reserves.
Estimates of the size of the unconventional oil resource base are more difficult. Using the statistics of the US Geological Survey and the US Department of Energy, the global unconventional oil resource base was 450 billion tonnes (3.3 trillion barrels).
The potential ultimately recoverable oil resources are thus a combination of currently discovered conventional reserves (1.4 trillion-1.73 trillion barrels), plus undiscovered conventional reserves (565 billion barrels) plus unconventional resources (3.3 trillion barrels). The total, which must be regarded as speculative, is in the range of 5.1 trillion to 5.4 trillion barrels. At current rates of consumption, that could supply the world’s needs for close to 150 years. From this it is reasonable to conclude that the potential consumption of oil in the world will not soon be resource-constrained.
Development of additional oil reserves relies upon a favourable investment climate for oil companies, high enough prices to supply the necessary cashflow, and supportive government policies. The International Energy Agency 2023 report indicated that upstream oil and gas investment rose by 11% in 2022 to over US $450 billion and is expected to rise by 7% to US $500 billion in 2023. However, in 2015, new capital expenditures constituted over 90% of cash flow, but that share steadily declined to less than 50% in 2022. Among the reasons cited by the IEA was “uncertainty about future oil demand”, but global oil demand continues to rise at over one million barrels per day per year. A more accurate reason may be companies’ concern about the adverse impact of western countries’ anti-hydrocarbons climate policies.
Absent intrusive climate policies, the world would inevitably go through a long transition in which increasingly more expensive oil was supplanted by natural gas and a range of other competitively-priced energy sources.
Climate policy, however, seeks through taxation, regulation and central planning to control the pace of transition.
It also seeks to remove natural gas from the equation as a transitional fuel.
In so doing, climate policy risks creating a situation of both dire scarcity and extremely high energy prices that may persist for a long time. It remains to be seen, of course, whether the public in democratically-governed countries will tolerate such a transition.
The clueless Ben Marlow is back to normal, with this utterly naive article:
In the Marlow household, all it took was a couple of chillier nights for us to panic and swap the paper-thin summer duvets for something more robust, a move I instantly regretted after seeing the weather forecast for the next five days.
As a way of ensuring the lights stay on, it certainly beats firing up the country’s old coal power stations – the tactic so often previously employed. There’s a certain creativity to it too – not something you’d expected from an organisation that Octopus Energy boss Greg Jackson has accused of “a phenomenal failure to innovate”.
But more broadly, it’s another sticking plaster solution to the energy crisis, and a pretty primitive one at that.
Bills are still obscenely high and we need to wean ourselves off oil and gas. Yet it’s becoming increasingly clear that the costs of reaching net zero risks being prohibitively high, and No 10 continues to rely on a price cap that is acting as much as a floor on household bills as it is a ceiling.
But Marlow’s solution is to build more wind and solar, and spend £40 bn that we have not got on upgrading the grid infrastructure to distribute it:
If Claire Coutinho wants to be taken more seriously in the post than her predecessor, then she should start by trying to drag the Grid into the 21st century so that electricity supply can keep up with ballooning demand.
Isn’t the very threat of the lights going out in an advanced economy pretty firm evidence that the Grid is “not fit for purpose”, as Octopus’s Jackson has also claimed?
If you’re still not convinced, then perhaps it’s worth remembering that it takes seven years on average to connect a wind farm to the grid, while there are parts of London where it is impossible to build more homes because there isn’t capacity to support them.
In 2022, National Grid committed to a £40bn spending program on critical infrastructure over the next four years. Heaven knows it’s needed. Britain is moving to a modern digital economy in which electricity demand is expected to soar threefold by the middle of the century.
Apparently Mr Marlow has not managed to work out that the looming blackouts will be the result of shutting down tranches of dispatchable coal power, not a lack of intermittent renewable energy.
The commenters on the article seem to recognise this better than Marlow. For instance:
The fundamental problem is that our political class are hopelessly incompetent, economically and scientifically illiterate and completely corrupt.
They have committed the country to net zero lunacy without any referendum or mandate which will result in economic suicide and our transition to third world status.
Anyone impartial with any sense that has looked into it can see that renewables are intermittent and therefore unable to ever provide the reliable base load power required for a 1st world nation. Energy storage on the scale required using batteries or hydrogen is not and will never be viable.
Therefore the only realistic solution is to focus on nuclear, gas and coal based power to provide reliable base load power at sensible cost.
The only conclusion one can reach is that our politicians are effectively captured by a hostile foreign entity and are deliberately trying to destroy the future of our nation and its people.
Can wind, solar, and batteries replace the hydrocarbon fuels that power our modern industrialized society? Steve Gorham’s new book, Green Breakdown, shows why a forced transition to renewable energy—the Net Zero agenda—is costly, dangerous, and destined for failure. Integrating science, economics, and history, Steve Gorham’s most recent book exposes the weaknesses in green-energy planning and predicts a coming renewable-energy failure.
Green Breakdown is a complete discussion of all facets of the proposed renewable transition, including power plants, home appliances, electric vehicles, ships, aircraft, heavy industry, carbon capture and storage, and the hydrogen economy. Charts, graphs, and references to numerous studies are used to support the analysis. At the same time, the large collection of cartoons, images, and quotes grabs the attention of the reader.
From the Introduction:
“An engineer who attended one of my recent presentations told me his wife had returned her electric vehicle (EV) to Tesla, the manufacturer. Her EV would not charge during the cold Cleveland winter of January 2022. Also in January, more than 100 insurance companies sued Texas electrical grid operator ERCOT because of the grid failure that happened in February 2021 due to the cold weather. The failure resulted in hundreds of deaths and tens of billions of dollars in damages. Former Swiss Environmental Minister Simonetta Sommaruga, seeking ways to reduce energy use, recently advised people to ‘shower together.’ These examples point to growing problems with the world’s rush to transition to renewable energy.”
Green Breakdown alerts the reader to these and other questions:
After almost $4 trillion spent globally on renewable energy from 2000 to 2018, why were coal, oil, and natural gas still providing 81 percent of world energy in 2018, the same share as in 1991?
If electricity produced by wind and solar is cheaper, why do Denmark and Germany, the European nations with the most wind and solar capacity per person, have the highest electricity prices?
Since electricity produced by burning biomass emits at least 50 percent more carbon dioxide per megawatt of power than burning coal, why is biomass considered zero emissions?
If global warming makes storms more frequent, why does data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration show that hurricane land falls in the United States have been slightly declining since 1850?
Since less than five watt-hours of every million watt-hours of US electricity consumption are stored in grid-scale batteries, how can batteries solve the problem of wind and solar intermittency?
Here is text from the conclusion of Chapter 10 of Green Breakdown, which is titled “Energy Crisis and the Seeds of Failure”:
“Output from nuclear power grew rapidly from 1956 to 1980. Leaders projected that nuclear would become the dominant source of global electricity. But the nuclear industry ran into cost, safety, and waste concerns as it grew larger. Similarly, wind, solar, and EVs have grown quickly and are projected to dominate the world’s energy systems. When energy sources are small, they can grow rapidly with little negative effect on the overall energy system. But as they grow larger, negative side effects can slow and then halt penetration.
Wind and solar now face mounting problems with poor electrical power reliability from intermittency, local opposition to vast land requirements, transmission infrastructure shortages, and rising electricity bills for rate payers. Electric vehicles encounter rising battery metal costs and charging issues. Biofuels require increasing amounts of land and provide negligible emissions reductions. Accelerating demands for mined metals and rising end-of-life wastes for wind, solar, and EVs sprout as major cost and environmental issues. The push for carbon capture and hydrogen fuel faces insurmountable cost, transport, and scale barriers. With all these problems and the negative side effects, the transition to renewable energy is headed for failure.”
Green Breakdown, like my other books, contains many quotes from scientists, political and business leaders, environmental groups, the United Nations, and other organizations. My website contains an updated list of more than 800 eco-quotes in 37 categories, compiled from his four books. You can find this eco-quote list here: Eco-Quotes – Steve Goreham
Here are a few examples:
“Utah School Gives Kids ‘Disgusting’ Insects to Eat in Class for Climate Assignment on Cows Killing Earth” —Fox News, Mar. 6, 2023
“Increased levels of carbon dioxide (CO2) have helped boost green foliage across the world’s arid regions over the last 30 years through a process called CO2 fertilization, according to CSIRO research.” —Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization, July 3, 2013
“Bill Gates Issued a Stark Warning for the World: ‘As Awful as This Pandemic is, Climate Change Could be Worse’” —Business Insider, Aug. 5, 2020
“Adults keep saying, ‘We owe it to the young people to give them hope.’ But I don’t want your hope. I don’t want you to be hopeful. I want you to panic. I want you to feel the fear that I fear every day. And then I want you to act. I want you to act as if you would in a crisis. I want you to act as if the house was on fire because it is.” —Greta Thunberg, panel presentation at the World Economic Forum, Jan. 25, 2019
“California Asks Residents Not to Charge Electric Vehicles, Days After Announcing Gas Car Ban” —MyStateLine.com, Aug. 31, 2022
“We have arrived at a moment of decision. Our home—Earth—is in danger. What is at risk of being destroyed is not the planet itself, of course, but the conditions that have made it hospitable for human beings.” —Al Gore, former US Vice President, statement to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Jan. 28, 2009
“Swedish Scientist Advocates Eating Humans to Combat Climate Change,” “After Söderlund’s presentation, 8% of the audience raised their hands when asked if they would be willing to try human flesh.” —Think Big, Sep. 8, 2019
Green Breakdown is now available from Amazon or bookstores. Ebooks are available from Amazon, Apple, Google, and Barnes and Noble. Steve will send you a signed copy if you buy from his website: Steve Goreham
Please pick up a copy and learn the likely future of the demanded energy transition.
Steve Goreham is a professional speaker, researcher, independent columnist, and the author of four books on energy, sustainability, climate change, and public policy.His previous posts at MasterResource can be found here.
The Not-So-Strange Death of Europe: Cultural Sacrifice at The Altar of Gaia
In an excellent article penned by Tilak Doshi, he embarks on a journey detailing the tragic decline of Western Europe, particularly focusing on its transition from a powerhouse of economic and cultural vigor to a region hobbled by the very green policies it adopted. Doshi,
“The concern here is not related to the dire generational problems of mass immigration and ethnic and national identity… Rather, it relates to the present day consequences of West European left-of-center governments’ commitments to the radical Green agenda.”
The Unraveling of Germany’s Economic Machinery Germany, once considered the very backbone of the Eurozone, finds itself in quicksand of economic regression. As Doshi says,
“Europe’s economic engine is breaking down” reads a Bloomberg headline published in May. The latest IMF forecast predicts that Germany will be the worst performing G-7 economy this year, the only economy expected to contract in the group.”
A Price Too High: Europe’s Green Energy Burden While it’s convenient for some to attribute Europe’s energy woes to outside influences like Russia’s geopolitical machinations, energy expert Professor Fritz Vahrenholt offers a more grounded perspective. To quote,
“The failed transition to green energies is responsible.”
Given the compelling evidence presented, one can’t help but smirk at the silliness of such self-inflicted wounds. As Europe tries to navigate these turbulent waters, it’s vital to remember that not all sacrifices lead to salvation. Sometimes, they just lead to more pain.
Other quarters, often they would include a graph comparing the average winning bids of all the major fuel types — a graph that surely is essential in these inflationary times where our electricity prices are setting record highs, rising by 25% this month, and we have a national debate on our energy crisis.
In the next quarterly report the AEMO did list the average “winning bids” of brown coal but didn’t do the comparison graph, so I’ve done it for them. If only they had room in their 68 page report and $450 million dollar budget so Australians can see, at a glance, which fuel source provides the cheapest wholesale generation by far, every quarter, all the time?
Despite all the inflation, the war, and the pandemic, brown coal generators are still making electricity for 3c a KWh. Shouldn’t Australians know that?
Compare that to current retail electricity prices in our renewables superstar state South Australia — where the cost varies from 33c to 47c per kilowatt hour.
Brown coal doesn’t “set” the winning bid as often as it used to when it was a larger proportion of our generation mix. Obviously, if it did, we’d have cheaper electricity.
The prices for solar and wind power were the nonsensical minus $24 and minus $41/ MWh. They’re not included because they are not despatchable, and most of the costs of the unreliables are hidden in subsidies. When we spend $20 billion on pumped hydro and transmission lines, those costs, like the batteries and demand schemes should be added to the wind and solar charges. When the rest of the reliable grid has to charge more to cover their costs of sitting around on “standby” — those higher costs should be added to the renewables bill too.
Brown coal is a national asset because it is impervious to international dramas and conflicts. It can’t be shipped far because it has a habit of catching fire on the boat, so there is no international market, instead we have hundreds of years of supply all to ourselves. The more we use, the more black coal and gas we can make billions of dollars with. Instead of being a renewable energy superpower, we could be a cheap energy superpower.
Australia made $124 billion dollars in export revenues from black coal last year Imagine a world where Australian electricity prices were cheap again and industries moved here from all over the world. With the extra funds Australian families could afford laptops, music lessons, books and adventure camps for every child, or trips to the Whitsundays, Ningaloo, whatever turned them on. Parents might not have to work two jobs. What a life of riches we gave up so easily, with so little thought, because we were badgered and bullied into a futile quest to change the weather?
Rishi Sunak said it would make “absolutely no sense” for the U.K. not to take advantage of its domestic fossil fuel resources as he announced hundreds of new oil and gas drilling licences in the latest setback for climate activists. The Telegraph has more.
The Prime Minister said the new licences showed the Government’s commitment to backing the North Sea oil and gas industry and would help to make Britain more energy independent.
The decision to give the green light to new drilling operations is likely to prompt a backlash from climate change activists.
But Mr. Sunak said even with the 2050 net zero emissions drive a quarter of the U.K.’s energy demand will still be met by oil and gas by the middle of the century and it would be better for the environment if it was produced domestically.
Mr. Sunak was asked during an interview on BBC Radio Scotland’s Good Morning Scotland programme on Monday morning how the new licences would enhance the UK’s chances of hitting the 2050 Net Zero target.
He replied: “Because even when we reach Net Zero in 2050 a quarter of our energy needs will still come from oil and gas and domestic gas production has about a quarter or a third of the carbon footprint of imported gas.
“So not only is it better for our energy security not to rely on foreign dictators for that energy, not only is it good for jobs, particularly Scottish jobs, it is actually better for the environment because there is no point in importing stuff from halfway around the world with two to three times the carbon footprint of the stuff we have got at home. That makes absolutely no sense.”
Mr. Sunak said importing energy from abroad meant the U.K. was the victim of global fluctuations in prices and domestic production would help to shelter people from big cost increases.
He said: “It is important that we increase homegrown sources of energy to improve our resilience but also that is good for Scottish in particular jobs in the U.K.
“It is good for tax revenue as well which funds our public services and given we are going to need energy from fossil fuels for the foreseeable future as we transition to Net Zero, it makes no sense not to use the resources that we have got here at home.”
Everyone wants to claim credit when something is a success. My guess is that the real architect of the emerging energy crisis will eventually, be remembered as the absolute worse Prime Minister Australia ever had. Of course, he couldn’t have achieved this all on his own and his environment minister, then senator Robert Hill, played a big part in it all.
It was during Howard’s term as PM that the Renewable Energy (Electricity) Act 2000 was conceived and implemented creating subsidies for wind turbines, that are not windmills.
As Alex Nicolls, not to be confused with Alex Turnbull, explains in this little video clip there is a lot of money to be made out of installing a wind turbine. While expensive, and subsidised, it is not obvious how much useful electricity is actually generated by each turbine.
That John Howard continues to be held up as a paragon of conservative values is an absolute travesty.
That John Howard is being invited by psychologist Jordon Peterson to be part of the new Alliance for Responsible Citizenship (ARC), including to champion a new and better approach to environmental issues is ridiculous. Too many of my colleagues are telling me how excited they are to be a part of this event that will be held in London later this year. Useful idiots the lot of them.
The Howard government not only introduced the legislation that created the subsidies for the explosion in investment in this different form of unreliable electricity generation, but it was also under John Howard that the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 was introduced. While ostensibly affording a great amount of protection to natural environments, in reality it resulted in more legislation, more employment of new graduates and activists, that came up with plans making it that much harder to do anything useful for the environment, like control woody weed regrowth on farm.
Back then, I was employed as environment manager for the Queensland sugarcane farmers lobby group, Canegrowers.
I remember being visited by someone from the Humane Society who tried to convince me to get onboard. He explained that just by supporting their work, and being less antagonistic towards the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), I could become more important. He went on to explain that I could grow my own career, including through the direct employment of more people as my assistants – all financed by the federal government through the new EPBC legislation. I eventually told him to get the F*ck out of my office.
During John Howard’s time as prime minister the amount of direct federal government expenditure on environmental issues ballooned from A$500 million to A$4.3 billion all of this to mostly implement the vision of the WWF because John Howard didn’t actually come to government with his own vision.
It is the case that not long after the EPBC Act was introduced, people associated with WWF Australia were appointed to serve on Federal Government environmental advisory committees. A short time later, WWF Australia in conjunction with the Humane Society International was awarded a contract to disseminate information about the Act amongst environment organisations.
In return, the Howard Government frequently used WWF Australia’s name and public statements to promote its environment policies. Press release after press release mentioned WWF to add credibility to the John Howard’s many environmental policies; There were a total of some 64 media releases back then that cited WWF Australia many from the office of Robert Hill and many probably written at least in part by Imogen Zethoven.
The feature image is a photograph taken by me looking through mangroves to a full moon that is reflected back from Weyba Creek. The world is not always as it seems and environmental politics is full of smokes and mirrors with very little that benefits the natural environment.
Global warming, climate change, all these things are just a dream come true for politicians. I deal with evidence and not with frightening computer models because the seeker after truth does not put his faith in any consensus. The road to the truth is long and hard, but this is the road we must follow. People who describe the unprecedented comfort and ease of modern life as a climate disaster, in my opinion have no idea what a real problem is.