Friday, 13 April 2018

No, don't #EndOil : Because hipster energy is no replacement for reliable energy [UPDATED]


“Suggesting that renewables will let us phase rapidly off fossil fuels ... is
almost the equivalent of believing in the Easter Bunny and Tooth Fairy.”

~ former NASA scientist and current uber-climate-alarmist James Hansen
(quoted in ‘
James Hansen Smacks Renewable Energy’)


"The world is changing, and it's time to face the facts" said the Prime Minister's minister who drove to Taranaki yesterday to tell people this Government is putting 'virtue signalling' above energy reliability.

Times are changing, emphasised the show pony in the Prime Minister's office, declaring this announcement to be the beginning of "our transition to renewables" -- citing as "essential parts" of her "transition plan" the Government's Provincial Growth Fund and Green Investment Fund: her "plan" to replace reliable energy thereby being revealed as resting upon the twin pillars of the Green Party's "green jobs" fantasies and Shane Jones's billion-dollar slush fund. Hipster energy backed by welfare cheques to depleted regions.

South Australia has recently completed that transition to renewables. It celebrated with blackouts that closed schools, hospitals and most of its industry -- closed down by a once in a 50-year storm that was enough to shut down the renewables-packed grid, shut down all supply and send the state reeling straight back (quite literally) into the dark ages. Urgently, it reconnected its state's grid to Victoria's fossil-fuel supplied energy.

It was said that South Australia's experimental energy arrangements were a "textbook case" of how not to transition to renewable energy. In fact, it was a textbook case of why not to transition to renewable energy at all.

As South Australians discovered, a working definition of renewable energy is unreliable energy. It might also be characterised as unprofitable energy, relying upon subsidies to survive and on reliable fossil-fuel energy as backup. The fact is, it is not a reliable energy source at all - it is imply parasitical upon energy that is. It is an entire alleged industry on the mooch.

Times might be changing -- but it's not because reliables are being replaced by renewables. It's because those talking about all this hipster energy are simply denying away the facts they find inconvenient. Like the fact that New Zealand could shut down tomorrow and become a nature reserve with no humans at all (which some in Green Party would cheer if they were still here), and we would still have virtually no impact on global warming;

... like the proportion of so-called renewables in use around the world, which is risible ...




... like the fact that the fossil-fuel share of world energy is around 80% of all energy produced, with nuclear and hydro providing most of what remains;

... like the fact Germany's much-hyped sun-worshipping energy sources delivers near-zero power whenever it's most needed;

... like the fact abundant energy keeps us warm, keeps us cool, and gives leverage to puny human effort. It quite literally keeps us alive, and thriving;

... like the thousands upon thousands of everyday products we all rely upon that are made reliably and inexpensively with fossil fuels;

... like the millions of people in northern Europe and Canada who rely every year upon reliable heating to save them from certain death in the face of bone-killing cold;

... like the fact that the relative costs of weather catastrophes are not rising but declining -- declining because reliable world energy production is not;

... that the key to climate safety is not a degree or two of temperature, but the climate protection provided by industrial civilisation (e.g., air conditioning).

These are very relevant facts to face right there.

The fact is, nature is not naturally benevolent. We have to work to make it so, for us. The very point of human production – the reason we get up in the morning and go to work, if we can – is to make our lives better. If human life is our standard, then making human lives better and the natural environment more humane is a good thing. A Very Good Thing.

So when you see dozens killed by Europe's coldest weather in years you may realise for example that cold weather kills – kills vastly more than warmer weather does – and that human production that makes the human environment warmer may not be a totally bad thing. And, therefore, that the fossil fuels people burn to stay warm are not a bad thing.

As Alex Epstein of the Center for Industrial Progress summarises: “Fossil Fuels don’t take a safe climate and make it dangerous, they take a dangerous climate and make it safe.”




Why are fossil fuels still so overwhelmingly important? "If you rely on wind and hydro, if it does't rain, you have to have something else to turn on,” explained Meridian's then chief executive Mark Binns last year. “And at this stage, that is fossil fuel; either coal or gas.” Fossil fuels are still New Zealand’s reliable backstop. Just one reason he’s reluctant to encourage Genesis turning off New Zealand’s largest reliable energy producer, at Huntly.
New Zealand was "a long way away" from generating all its electricity from renewables [said Binns], questioning whether that might ever be possible.
These are facts the Prime Minister and her messengers refuse to face.

Much of the opposition to the Prime Minister's announcement however has ignored most of these facts as well, focussing only upon the loss of jobs as investment pulls out as investors see little future in the industry. The fact is however that we should be against the loss of these jobs not because they are jobs, but because fossil fuels are a life-enhancing product that is being legislated out of existence (not competed out) without even a real reliable expectation of any viable alternative to replace them.

The fact is, we need good reliable energy to survive. We need it to flourish. In a week in which Aucklanders have discovering again just what it's like to struggle without power, you'd think at least some of those tens of thousands might at least appreciate some part of that fact.

UPDATE: A good comment below by MarkT:

[It is said that] the critics are contradictory by claiming it's both an empty gesture and also wholesale destructive to the regional economy.
It’s an empty gesture in terms of any supposed climate benefits, wholesale destructive (or at least damaging) in terms of the effect on the regional economy. Fossil fuels will only be on their way out when better practical and economic alternatives to the internal combustion engine are found, and we’re a long way from that. If and when it is found, it will naturally out-compete oil in the market without government intervention. In the meantime this move won’t make one iota of difference to how much oil is consumed, just more of it will need to be imported.

3 comments:

  1. Well said. Here's my comment on the Stuff article supporting the move, where the editor said the critics are contradictory by claiming it's both an empty gesture and also wholesale destructive to the regional economy.

    "It’s an empty gesture in terms of any supposed climate benefits, wholesale destructive (or at least damaging) in terms of the effect on the regional economy. Fossil fuels will only be on their way out when better practical and economic alternatives to the internal combustion engine are found, and we’re a long way from that. If and when it is found, it will naturally out-compete oil in the market without government intervention. In the meantime this move won’t make one iota of difference to how much oil is consumed, just more of it will need to be imported."

    ReplyDelete
  2. They don't want cheap and reliable energy. That leads to more people and to increased freedom. Nuclear fusion power stations, should they ever eventuate, will be detested most all.

    ReplyDelete
  3. How long will it be before this gov't introduces high tarriffs or duties on imported fuel, associated plant and machinery and vehicles so they become un affordable for the average person and businesses etc. I think this gov't has an agenda to rid NZ of the use of fossil fuels period. They want to have complete control on how we live our lives and keep us down while they in there ivory tower live the rich high life. There will always be enough fossil fuels for them.

    ReplyDelete

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