Carbon Counter is discontinued

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Last August I announced that I was stopping blogging until the new year.

Well, the new year has arrived, but I will not be returning to blogging.

The reason is simple. It is a time issue. Read the rest of this entry »

Energy mix web apps now include biomass

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After a quick look through my hard drive I found that I could quickly add biomass data to the web application for viewing energy mixes. The updated version is available here.

Currently I am only able to include biomass data for the US from EIA, and for EU countries from Eurostat.

US data is available from 1965 to 2014, but EU data is only available from 1990 to 2013.

A couple of notes. The measure I’m using here is primary energy consumption. However, the EU renewable energy target is based on final energy consumption. The numbers will therefore come out a bit differently to how the EU accounts for renewables. Ideally I could create an app that let’s users choose between primary and final energy consumption, but this is likely to involve a lot of very boring manual calculations that someone would need to pay me to do. So for now I will stick with primary energy consumption.


A web application for viewing energy mixes

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I have created a web application for viewing energy mixes of countries. Check it out here.

It uses energy data from BP and population data from Gapminder to chart the changes in energy mixes of countries since 1965. There are 4 different plot types available, and in each plot you can either look at total energy consumption or per-capita energy consumption.

Primary energy consumption is used in these plots. You can measure energy consumption in a variety of ways, some of these are discussed by me here. The renewables proportion of energy consumption in these charts will be higher than calculated by the EU for their renewable energy targets, because they use final energy consumption. On the other hand, the figures in these plots will be reflective of those use for China in its INDC, which has a target of “around 20%” of its primary energy coming from low-carbon sources by 2030.

A weakness of BP’s figures is that they do not include most of Africa. They also do not include most bioenergy, thought they have some for biomass used in electricity generation. I have decided to exclude bioenergy totally from the plots until I can get better data. However, for the EU and US this should just be a case of pulling in data from Eurostat and EIA which I have somewhere.

The app is still a work in progress and I plan to add some extra features. For example, I will be adding in the ability to look at growth rates for individual energy sources.

For now this is hosted at theĀ, a free service. There is a limit to how much the app can be used, so if it gets popular the app will become unavailable until the start of the next month. I am considering turning these things into a website, but the chances of me doing this before the end of the year are slim: I’m too busy, and I wouldn’t know where to start with building a website.

The app was written in R and uses the shiny package. Anyone who wants the code can email me and I can pass it on. At some point, once it is more fully featured, I will add the code to my Github repositories.

If anyone has suggestions for additions or improvements, please add a comment.

Infographics as interactive web apps

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Followers on Twitter may be interested in knowing that I am starting to convert some of the infographics I am posting into interactive web applications. These will let you easily look up data for individual countries, things like per-capita emissions, energy mixes, percentages of electricity from wind or solar, etc.

The first one that is available is of per-capita emissions, which is available here. (It’s actually a bit rough round the edges, and needs the 2 in CO2 to be lower case….)

This uses the Shiny platform created by RStudio. The apps will be available on a site that offers a free service. Being free means there is a limit to how many people can use the app, so possibly once I put a few up it won’t be particularly useful.

In the long run I am considering creating a website which will have all of these in one location. This might offer a useful service. Currently it isn’t particularly easy to find out basic facts about energy. A site like Gapminder, which makes find data easy might fill a market.

I am probably too busy to look into this until the end of the year as my experience of web development is zero and I have far too much academic work to be thinking of doing this.

Check back over the next couple of weeks and I will post apps for other energy data. It’s only about half an hour’s work to convert the R code producing the infographics I have of individual country data into apps, so I should have a couple more up by the end of next week. I might try to create one for comparing current and historical CO2 emissions from countries, but I will probably do that once I get a paper finished and submitted to a journal this month.

Limiting climate change to 1.5 C. Some simple arithmetic

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I am an old fashioned scientist more interested in numbers than in diplomatic agreements or parsing diplomatic language. So I have no real view of whether the Paris climate change agreement is a historical triumph or a fraud.

But as a long time observer, and sometime contributor, to debates over whether we can limit temperature rises to 2 C above pre-industrial levels, I am rather perplexed by the unexpected inclusion in the agreement of the aspiration to keep temperature rises to 1.5 C. Read the rest of this entry »

Guest blogging at PLOS Ecology

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I have a guest blog post over at PLOS Ecology looking at wind farms, and how recent research shows that their carbon savings can vary significantly depending on where you locate them.

Read it here.

Thanks to Victoria Costello for editing it.

Comments on old posts have been closed

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Just a note to readers that I have shut down comments on old posts. I have done this because I would otherwise have to keep a continual eye on the comments to make sure advice on how to enlarge your penis (that is if you have one – and you probably do; energy and climate change is an excessively penis dominated affair) does not appear below a blog post on German energy policy. While I am sure some readers want this advice I must cater to the majority. Hence, comments are now closed. Read the rest of this entry »

Carbon Counter will return

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Well, I hoped to get a couple of posts today out each day this week, given it was my last week of blogging this year. But it turns out I was much too busy trying to optimize R code. (Valuable lesson: dplyr is rather useful for big data in R.)

I should be back in the New Year, I think, maybe, maybe not. This blog mostly gives me a chance to vent about energy issues, and if I find another venue for venting I might never return…..

Anyone who wants to bother me or ask for my opinion on something over this period should contact my by email. It’s listed under Contact.

I have nothing more to say. But please return in five months and shoot me in the back if you find me repeating myself. The one thing I’ve learned about energy is that things move slowly. So the probability of my preoccupations changing in the next 5 months are slim…..

Californian solar is much more reliable than German solar

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I explained yesterday that Germany is never going to run on solar power for the simple reason that it is too far north and too cloudy. Winter is simply too much of a problem for high latitude countries to get very far with solar power.

Things, of course, are a lot different in sunnier southern locations. So let’s compare Germany with California. Read the rest of this entry »

Germany will never run on solar power. Here is why

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If you rely too heavily on social media for your information, you are liable to believe that Germany now gets half of its energy from solar panels. The reality of course is that Germany gets nowhere near to half of its energy or electricity needs from solar panels. Far from it.

Last year, 5.7% of Germany’s electricity generation and 2.5% of primary energy consumption came from solar panels (BP Statistical Review of World Energy). The contribution solar panels make towards Germany’s renewable energy target (which uses the final energy consumption metric) is even lower. Less than 1.5% of German final energy consumption now comes from solar panels according to Eurostat.
Read the rest of this entry »