China’s cement making industries produce around 1.2 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide each year. This is more than the total emissions of Germany and Japan. For this, and other hopefully interesting facts and figures, read my latest column about cement consumption in China. This is not what anyone would call a hot button, but more people than I expected read my previous piece about steel making in China, so perhaps some people may read this.
Today “data-driven” energy commentator Chris Nelder confidently informs us that the clean energy revolution tipping point has arrived. Nelder is an old fashioned peak oil type, and starts out talking about how we are running out of oil, while confounding oil and gas at the same time. But the reliability of his thesis is easily judged by considering the evidence that he aligns in its favour. Here are a couple of examples that show just how sloppily argued the whole business is.
Renewable energy now supplies 23 percent of global electricity generation, according to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, with capacity having doubled from 2000 to 2012. If that growth rate continues, it could become the dominant source of electricity by the next decade. Continue reading
Since a few people suggested they were interested in me still blogging I thought I would keep doing it periodically. And providing a list of things I think are worth reading every once in a while might be of use to some people (God knows why). So here goes.
The always excellent Vaclav Smil on the major trends in global energy. Read it here.
I have been reading a lot of David Simon, writer of The Wire, lately.
His talk at the Sydney Festival Ideas is a brilliant indictment of modern economic practises. Watch it on Youtube.
A few books.
Why is the world powered by fossil fuels? E.A. Wrigley’s book “Energy and the English Industrial Revolution” provides some good answers, and provides some interesting historical perspective on the limits of bio-energy. Buy it here.
Marc Levenson’s The Box is a fascinating look at the history and importance of container shipping. Though it will leave a certain type of reader wanting more, due its lack of quantitative analysis. Buy it here.
There is nothing worse than bullshit. And Francis Wheen skewers all sorts in his wonderful book How Mumbo Jumbo Conquered The World. Particularly enjoyable is his chapter on that most awful of 20th century inventions: post-modernism. Get it here.
Chasing Ice. I have a part time interest in photography and this documentary about The Extreme Ice Survey is both interesting, and at times quite powerful. It also has a song by Scarlett Johansson over the closing. (She sings?) Get it here.
Can you make a wind turbine without fossil fuels? This question appears to have not been asked by the various people telling us 100% renewables is achievable. My latest piece at Energy Collective looks at the problems, read it here. Making stuff is perhaps the greatest de-carbonisation challenge. We now make things like steel, cement and aluminium extremely efficiently. And some things like steel making or cement making currently cannot be done without emitting lots of CO2 (currently iron, steel and cement are about 12% of global CO2 emissions).
A book I recommend on the subject is Allwood and Cullen’s, which is freely available here.
I re-started this blog a week ago as an experiment just to see how it went.
So far the reading stats indicate that I really need a Twitter account to advertise it, otherwise the readership is rather limited. Back in the old days I could tweet my stuff to my thousand or so followers and pull in decent stats, but now I can’t. Now I probably spend more time writing a post than people spend reading it, unless someone half prominent tweets about it which happened with last week’s post about Amory Lovins. But I want to be able to forego the requirement of having to constantly push hot buttons to pull in readers.
Not wanting to dilute my product any more I will probably not be blogging much in future and will instead focus purely on my column at the Energy Collective, where I can easily pull in a far greater readership. I will advertise new columns here so that any subscribers can see what the hell I’m currently writing elsewhere.
Otherwise, goodbye, and good luck.
Yes, there really is no shortage of physically impossible claims to be made. The above report claims that a new wind turbine is 600% more efficient than existing designs, and it happens to be just about the silliest thing I have read in a long time. Modern wind turbines are in fact ultra efficient, typically capable of working at greater than 30% efficiency at most relevant wind speeds. A 600% increase in efficiency then will result in this new turbine defying the laws of thermodynamics.
But the best part of the report is its explanation of how the turbine has a 600% advantage because it can run at low wind speeds. Kinetic energy flowing through a turbine goes up with the cube of wind speed, so any high school physics class should be able to tell you that the wind energy when wind speeds are 2 miles per hour are not worth caring about in the first place.
To date this silly report has been shared 800 times on social media, more than anything I have ever written. I must try harder.
John Vidal, the Guardian’s environment editor, has a particular talent at passing off opinion pieces as news. Today he is writing about GM crops.
When it comes to GM crops Vidal is a very late 1990s type of green, believing any old piffle passed his way. This can be seen by his ridiculous demands that we should take the thoroughly de-bunked study of Seralini seriously. This is not that different to an environment editor telling us we should take seriously a study showing the stars are causing climate change.
Now, he seems to be moving into even more absurd territory, implying that the Royal Society and others are in on some kind of conspiracy theory to get GM crops grown in Africa:
Africa is expected to be the next target of GM food companies, as European scientists and policymakers travel to Ethiopia to boost the prospect of growing more of the controversial crops on the continent.
Anne Glover, the chief scientific adviser to the European commission, and other prominent pro-GM researchers and policymakers from European countries including Germany, Hungary, Italy and Sweden will this week meet Ethiopian, Kenyan, Ghanaian and Nigerian farm ministers as well as officials from the African Union.
The Royal Society is thus implied to be shilling for Monsanto and Syngenta. Really, is this any better than the most vacuous of climate change deniers claiming the majority of climate scientists agree on climate change simply to push some kind of left wing agenda? Some people don’t like the term anti-science, but in the case of Vidal it is hard to see how it is not literally correct.
“People who entreat the government to solve global warming but
offer support only for renewable energies will be rewarded with the certainty that the U.S. and
most of the world will be fracked-over, the dirtiest fossil fuels will be mined, mountaintop
removal and mechanized long-wall coal mining will continue, the Arctic, Amazon and other
pristine public lands will be violated, and the deepest oceans will be ploughed for fossil fuels.”
James Hansen in his latest essay.
If I shut the door on a Jehovah’s Witness I am not censoring them, I am simply managing my time wisely. The same goes for all things online, but various people don’t seem to understand this. Continue reading