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A demonstration we'd like to see

06 Dec 2023 | News Roundup

To all the people gathering at COP28 wanting to get the public onside we have a piece of advice: plan a big demonstration. No, not of the Extinction Rebellion/Just Stop Oil kind. Rather the kind that the Manhattan Contrarian has berated them over: If you’re so sure this energy transition can work, and be fun exciting cheap easy and great, stop with the grand pontificating and finger-pointing, and show us a demonstration project. Show us just one large or even medium-sized jurisdiction that can run its economy on ‘green’ energy.

Just not the one inadvertently being put on where he’s from in which, he observes,

“New York thinks it is going to be the ‘leader’ in showing the world how to transition away from fossil fuels to ‘green’ energy. Our politicians and bureaucrats have not bothered with things like feasibility studies or demonstration projects showing that this can be done, because after all they are geniuses and it is up to the little people to figure out the details. So the energy transition has been ordered up via statutes filled with mandates and deadlines and penalties, with no attention paid to feasibility or cost. We now all get to sit back and watch as this crashes and burns.”

You’re not the only ones, alas. For instance, in its “The Future of Everything” feature, not at all pretentious, the Wall Street Journal recently asked us “Could ‘Green Concrete’ Kickstart the Market for Carbon Capture?” To which we’re tempted to say “Probably not” but also “Why are you asking us? Do you think we make cement?”

Actually our business is making objections. For instance that it’s a bit discouraging to read that “Researchers and entrepreneurs across the U.S. are racing to find ways to capture carbon and sequester it to reduce emissions, with billions of dollars in tax credits from 2022’s Inflation Reduction Act potentially up for grabs.” It would be better if they were racing to find ways to capture carbon because it was looking promising, and lucrative, rather than to get subsidies even if it’s just sucking the fizz out of soda and putting it in a hole in the ground or something.

It looks as though it is. For instance they say “capturing and storing carbon is easier said than done.” Well, duh, unless you’re a tree. They are literally trying to snatch carbon dioxide from the air. And it turns out “There’s only one commercial power plant in North America that uses the technology, and it’s not as climate-friendly as boosters had hoped.” Still, they’re starry-eyed:

“This week, we look at another approach to carbon storage that could help alleviate some of the burgeoning industry’s growing pains: ‘green’ concrete. The hybrid material is made by injecting liquid CO2 into concrete, which creates a rocklike calcium carbonate. That process reduces the concrete’s emissions by about 5% and locks away carbon that would otherwise enter the atmosphere.”

Five percent? So you admit that even if it works it’s a total waste of time, money and hope. As Canary Media wrote back in October:

“Cement production has an enormous carbon footprint. That can be curbed with plug-and-play solutions, but eliminating emissions entirely will require big, ambitious action.”

Still, don’t let us spoil the fun. If you can actually do it, show us. If not, if you can’t even do it on a small scale under favourable conditions, why go to Dubai and pretend the whole planet could do it just like that?

If you want a demonstration project, how about this one? The head of Volkswagen, the auto giant in the engineering giant Germany, announced cost-saving measures including staff reductions it had promised to avoid, because “With many of our pre-existing structures, processes and high costs, we are no longer competitive as the Volkswagen brand”. So yes, aggressive alternative energy programs can do what even socialism could not, and make it impossible for the German people to work productively. It is a demonstration. Just not the one we were hoping for. (Like the one where a court ruling that they couldn’t use a COVID fund to cheat on fiscal prudence seems to be blowing their federal budget to bits.)

Meanwhile Euronews reports on an Irish startup that wants to dump concrete dust on U.S. farmland. What could go wrong? The strange thing, though, is that:

“Silicate, which is based in Sligo, has developed an ‘enhanced weathering technology’ which aims to permanently remove millions of tonnes of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. The company is set to undertake its first trial in the US, where it will spread hundreds of tonnes of crushed waste concrete onto farmland…. The trial will see 500 tonnes of concrete dust spread over 50 hectares of farmland – roughly equivalent to 120 football fields – in Chicago. Over several months, the crushed concrete will break down in the soil initiating a process called ‘enhanced weathering’.”

So in the first case the cement must not break down, in the second it must. OK, we’re all for experimentation. But not for thrashing. And if these things keep flopping, or can’t seem to get anywhere without endless subsidies, well, it ought to tell us something.

Consider the headline “A $30 Billion Meltdown in Clean Energy Puts Biden’s Climate Goals at Risk” on a Bloomberg story saying that:

“No one expected the transition from fossil fuels to be easy. But a year after President Joe Biden’s landmark climate law promised billions of dollars for America’s switch to clean energy, some of the nation’s most ambitious renewable power projects have been shelved, electric car sales are missing targets and investors are fleeing the sector in droves. The result is a $30 billion collapse in US clean energy stocks in the last six months – a market many investors expected to flourish in the aftermath of the law’s passage.”

Did fools rush in? Should someone have run a test first?

Some outfit called “Canadians for Clean Prosperity” emailed us about another exciting development in which “Canada Growth Fund makes its first investment – a Calgary-based geothermal energy company”. Investment, you say? Well, sort of:

“A new federal financing agency set up to attract private-sector capital to fund commercial-scale, climate-related projects is making its first investment, plowing $90-million into an Alberta-based geothermal energy developer. The contribution from the Canada Growth Fund (CGF) represents nearly half of a $182-million series B funding round for Eavor Technologies Inc., which generates baseload heat and power using a closed-loop geothermal system that it invented.”

At the risk, again, of quibbling, when public money covers half your costs things look profitable that are actually cash capture and storage facilities. And with startup funding of $15 billion the Canada Growth Fund is certainly in a position to bury large amounts of the stuff. But we deniers have all the money, remember.

Overall a demonstration of all this brilliant technology shouldn’t be rocket surgery. As the Contrarian wrote in late October:

“Under the enlightened leadership of our expert bureaucrats in Washington and various state governments, we are embarked on a program to replace our functioning electricity generation system with an alternative system based on wind, solar, and energy storage. We are told that this will be easy, and in fact cheaper than what we currently have. Surely, if that is true for an entire country, it must be equally true for some small place like an island or a small town. Easiest of all for the demonstration would be an individual house, particularly if the house is surrounded by sufficient land to accommodate all the required elements of the system.”

Well yes. So where’s the beef, or insect-based patty?

“I have previously reported here that there is no such thing anywhere in the world as a demonstration project that has achieved anything close to 100% electricity generation from wind and solar sources without fossil fuel backup. The most significant attempt at such a demonstration project — El Hierro Island off the coast of Spain, which opened in 2014 — has barely achieved 50% of electricity generation from its wind/storage system in some years, while falling far short of even that level in other years. Today their website has quietly dropped or downplayed any mention of claims to be trying to achieve 100% renewable electricity generation. In the most recent year for which they provide data (2020), their backup diesel generator ran approximately 85% of the time.”

Many people think politicians are totally cynical true believers, who will make up any facts at all because they’re sure they’re right. But actually the inability to produce evidence for important policy claims does matter a great deal, if slowly.

P.S. The “Inflation Reduction Act” is paying U.S. states millions of dollars to develop “a comprehensive climate action plan” and guess what? They are. Nothing will happen… but they will get the money and the activist churn will intensify.

12 comments on “A demonstration we'd like to see”

  1. Regarding the Greta chanting 'crush Zionism'.
    You said this was against the 'Jewish state.'
    Zionism is a political party, not the state. If I said 'crush the Liberal Party of Canada' would you assume I was attacking Canada as a state?
    Of course not. Why then the double standard?
    I recommend studying this issue more. There are MANY, MANY Jewish people opposing the Israeli treatment of Palestinians.

  2. KM: What a load of rubbish you spew. The political party is anglicized as "The Religious Zionist Party." Nobody refers to it as "Zionism," much less Greta. Nor does it make sense to demand the crushing of a single political party, since that would leave the balance of power in the Knesset unchanged. When she says "crush Zionism," she means what everyone understands her to mean: crush the state of Israel.
    I recommend you study the issue more. There are MANY, MANY Palestinian and Arab people opposing the Hamas (etc.) treatment of Palestinians.

  3. Yowie! Climate Nexus guy, you made some snide remark about Gravelly Gretta denouncing Zionism and it brought about some weird misinformation on your comments box, about the nature of the Israeli state. Zionism is an ideology, not a political party. All political parties in Israel are nominally Zionist except the ones representing the Arab minority. The present ruling coalition in Israel is centered around the Likud party. It is very very right wing and tends toward what is called "revisionist" Zionism. Its crooked leader, Netanyahu, needs an alliance with extreme "Religious Zionist" fringe parties. He thus goes along with their project of a "final solution" against the "Amalekites" in Gaza who dared to strike back effectively at the Israeli occupation of their lands. Even worse, to show up the Israeli army and intelligence services to be totally incompetent.

    I have zero patience with anyone who wants to try to justify the utterly unjustifiable; the Israeli mass slaughter of a defenseless population with nowhere to flee to. The whole world is starting to see Zionism for what it is. The Israeli state's days are numbered. It could not last months without support from USA and EU. When that ends, there will be a Palestinian state form the River to the Sea, a phrase the Zionists and their symps really hate. Jewish people in that location will either decide to live in peace with non Jewish people, or go back where they came from.
    Of course, I have been doing some writing on the topic, which greatly interests me. Start here https://adultsincharge.blog/2023/11/19/the-gaza-war-backward-and-forward/ and keep going because I put the links in for a reason.

    As for the idea of a demonstration project for a green economy, that would never happen. It might show something the greenies do not want to know. Or do not want us to know.

  4. The worst kept secret about renewables is that no significantly large region can operate and thrive with renewables without fossil fuel backup.
    El Hierro is Exhibit A for that statement,and they are just a small island.Also I see antisemitism is rife here,and many other places.

  5. Crushed concrete spread on farmland? How does the concrete get crushed into dust? Let me guess … by a big crushing machine that runs on fossil fuel.

  6. The first three comments here, regarding Greta and Zionism, seem to be misplaced. The should be attached to the Tidbits page.

  7. Dear Tim Rourke,
    If you as an individual were to go on a murderous rampage and rape/torture/kill lots of people, you can expect condign and severe punishment. What makes you think it should be any different just because you do it as a quasi-national organization? The fact that there are enough Jew-haters in the Western world for Hamas to believe that they could get away with the consequenses does not alter this equation.

  8. In the field of energy, if economics maters, density is the most important factor. In the field of politics under cultural Marxist capture, who is in charge of the klepto-green theocracy is most important. Wind and solar are non-replicating, grid parasite, subsidized wastes of resources.

  9. Attention everyone. This dipstick Graves is probably being paid by Israel to pump out this nonsense. Probably not his real name. The line of attack is always the same.
    The weakness of the Zionist propaganda system these days is that social media is more developed. More people have access to what is really going on in Palestine. Also, the history of it.
    Read my stuff. Watch Al Jazeera. Read Electronic Intifada.
    This is my final post on this thread.

  10. Where was the "Greta chanting" bit in this post? Could not see it - but not surprised if she did. On Israel and clean energy ; -I have not heard about the solar pond concept in a long time , they were exploring this decades ago and others using phase change working fluids to use low grade heat sources, Stirling engines and other 'low tech' energy harvesting ideas --the diurnal air temp cycle can enhance the delta T quantity and efficiency using thermal mass storage but of course none of this can replace the hydrocarbons for the likes of steel smelting or jet aircraft etc etc but using the highest form of energy -electricity, to just warm your room by degrading it to the lowest form is stupid . Geothermal energy tanked in Australia (Cooper basin) most likely due to the low thermal conductivity and hence replenishment time but in a few locations with boiling hot springs it can work locally (eg Iceland NZ ) Tidal in western Australia and the bay of fundy are plausible at scale.

  11. I'm happy to read that this is your final post on this thread Tim. Your comments on the Israeli situation certainly deserve response but this is not the place. As for your last insulting comment it really doesn't merit a reply. Other than to say that perhaps you need to work harder to live up to the blog (adultsincharge). Just sayin'.

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