American Elephants


Green Energy is a Complete Flop, as the World Is Beginning to Realize by The Elephant's Child

National Climate Change Certification Scheme
We are mostly so engrossed in the political battles, that we have little time to pay attention to the rest of the world.  Or perhaps it’s just the media that is so engrossed, for they certainly are.

But a bunch of Democrat Attorneys General gather to attempt to garner mega bucks from Exxon Mobil because they are not interested in investigating the science, but in silencing dissent.

This is a very big deal, right out of Stalinist Russia. You dare to disagree with the “truth” handed down from the federal government and you must pay immense fines and/or be sent to the gulag. Glen Reynolds (Instapundit) said that conspiring to prohibit free speech is a crime in itself. Their idea is that they can sue Exxon Mobil under the RICO laws, which were devised for organized crime, as states attorney’s once did with tobacco. The cigarette companies knew that their product caused cancer, and tried to hide that knowledge, so there were immense damages.

Exxon Mobil, the AGs claim, is committing fraud in the interest of maximizing their profits by deceiving the public about the impact of man-made carbon dioxide emissions.

The fascinating thing is that these climate zealots have never read any of the science involved—they are just true believers. And every once in a while one of the true believers readily admits what it is all about—which is a brave new world where the world’s wealth will be redistributed by  climate policy.

Turns out that “the offices of New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman and those of other politically aligned AGs secretly teamed up with anti-fossil fuel activists to launch those investigations against those whose political speech challenged the global warming policy agenda.”

Beyond that, the drop in the price of energy is changing things all over the world.

— Hundreds of wind turbines in the Netherlands are operating at a loss and are in danger of being demolished. The main cause is the very low energy prices, which mean that the maintaining the turbines costs more than what the generated energy brings in, the Financieele Dagblad reports based on its own research. Subsidies for generating wind energy are in many cases no longer cost-effective. Smaller, older windmills in particular are running at a loss, but even newer mills are struggling to be profitable with insufficient subsidies. –Janene Pieters, NL Times, 15 April 2016

—Lights Go Out On Solar Power After British Government Cuts Subsidies The Guardian, 8 April 2016 (everywhere, when subsidies are cut, the green fraud dies)

—Polish Government plans to kill Wind Industry. Financial Times, 18 April 2016 (subscription)

—German Government Bill Threatens Renewable Energy Revolution, Green Lobby Warns
Solar Server News, 18 April 2016

—Norway to End Renewable Subsidy Scheme by 2021
Reuters, 15 April 2016

—Europe’s Energy Crisis Poses Warning for the U.S. Countries including Germany, Spain and England are finding that their recent “green energy” experiments are proving too costly to continue.
Breitbart, 14 April 2016

—Teslas May be making Hong Kong’s Pollution and CO2 Emissions Worse. The electric power for charging electric Tesla motors comes from coal generated power plants.
Bloomberg, 14 April 2016

The petrostates assembling in Doha to discuss a potential output freeze two days from now aren’t coming together in a show of solidarity or out of some sense of duty towards one another, but rather as an act of desperation. The American Interest, 16 April 2016

Cheap fossil fuels make the kinds of subsidies necessary to prop up renewables like solar a lot less politically justifiable. Buy into the solar hype at your own risk. SunEdison is one of the biggest players in the U.S. solar industry and was for a time the fastest growing renewables firm in America….today the company stares down more than $12 billion in debt and the looming threat of bankruptcy. The American Interest, 14 April 2016

Indian lenders are becoming increasingly reluctant to finance solar-power projects by foreign companies as bankruptcy looms for SunEdison Inc. in the U.S. live mint
21 April 2016 / E-Paper

There’s lots more. Britain is bringing in shale gas in a gusher, and Scotland looks to have success with shale. Huge fortunes have been made with governments’ subsidies for renewable energy, but if the subsidies are not forthcoming—wind and solar cannot stand on their own. The problems are in the nature of wind and solar energy. Wind is too intermittent, and there is no technology that can change the nature of the wind itself. The same goes for solar energy, but there the problem is night—when the sun sinks beneath the horizon and clouds.

Tesla has quietly discontinued its 10 kilowatt-hour home battery wall. The economics for backup power alone just aren’t that attractive.



The Crusade Of Democrat Attorneys General To Stifle Dissent by The Elephant's Child

jpmorgan-mortgage-bonds-probe
You have perhaps noticed that Democrats (Liberals, Progressives) don’t like disagreement, and increasingly, they wish to impose their right-thinking convictions on the rest of us, by force of law if necessary.

A coalition of Democratic attorneys general in 16 states announced Tuesday an unprecedented campaign to pursue companies that challenge the catastrophic climate change narrative, raising concerns over free speech and the use of state authority to punish political foes.

Standing beside former Vice President Al Gore, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said the state officials are committed to “working together on key climate-related initiatives,” including queries into whether fossil fuel companies like ExxonMobil have committed fraud by deceiving the public and shareholders about the impact of man-made carbon dioxide emissions. …

“The bottom line is simple: Climate change is real; it is a threat to all the people we represent,” Mr. Schneiderman said. “If there are companies, whether they’re utilities, whether they’re fossil fuel companies, committing fraud in an effort to maximize their short-term profits at the expense of the people we represent, we want to find out about it. We want to expose it and want to pursue them to the fullest extent of the law.”

Did you assume that it is merely a coincidence that the snowflakes in our colleges and universities need “safe spaces” to protect them from hearing anyone disagree with their right-thinking opinions. That’s why #Black Lives Matter, and activists from Ferguson and Baltimore are on campuses stirring up trouble. And that’s why they can’t bring themselves to tolerate speakers who do not hold correct opinions.

Climate Change is of course — real— the climate is always changing. We have hot summers and cool summers, hard winters and mild winters. We have had ice ages and warm periods like the Dark Ages from 600 to 900, followed by the Medieval Warming from 900 to 1300, which was followed by the Little Ice Age from 1300 to about 1850. From 1850 to 1940 there was a warming trend, and from 1940 till 1975 there was a cooling trend.

From 1976 to 1978 there was a warming spurt and from 1979 till the present it has been confusing because the surface thermometers indicated warming, but it was found that many were situated where concrete walls reflected heat, air-conditioner vents blew hot air, but  accurate satellite measurements have given us better datasets.

New York’s Attorney General Eric Schneiderman (pictured at top) is another right-thinking true believer who wants to use the force of law against those who hold incorrect ideas. Unfortunately Washington State’s Democrat Attorney General Bob Ferguson has signed on to the leftist crusade to use RICO laws ( meant for organized crime) to go after energy companies like Exxon Mobil for holding incorrect opinions. Embarrassing.

There has been no warming at all for 18 years and 10 months. None. The sun has gone quiet. If the Paris Climate Pact was fully implemented by all—it would reduce the temperature by 0.05º by the end of the century. We’ve survived the difference in temperature from a chilly rainy spring day till the next, when the sun breaks out. I suspect our descendants can handle it.



Actual Climate Change Pronouncements by The Elephant's Child

Climate-Change-Resized

(Click to enlarge)



As The Sun Sinks Slowly in the West, So Does the Solar Industry by The Elephant's Child

sun_and_sky_02
Back in 2010, President Obama hailed a Spanish Company, Abengoa, saying its new solar technology would supply tens of thousands of American homes with renewable power, and create local employment.

Since then the Spanish company has built two American plants, one in Arizona and one in California, which supply electricity to more than 160,000 homes based on the capacity of the solar thermal plants. Remember that “capacity” is what the plants would provide on perfectly sunny days, and ignoring clouds or rain.

It appears that Abengoa got overambitious, and saddled with debt from its expansion, is scrambling to avoid what would be the biggest bankruptcy in Spanish corporate history. Abengoa’s American projects in Gila Bend, Arizona, and Barstow, California, still have around $2 billion in outstanding loans guaranteed by the United States government. The plants were partly financed by $605 million in federal grants and tax credits, besides the federal loan guarantees. The New York Times adds:

“The whole reason Abengoa Solar had to get the guarantee from the government is that no private lender thought the risk was worth it,” the Institute of Energy Research, a prominent renewables critic that has received financing from the oil industry, said in 2011.

Do note the NYT phrasing, and the “oil industry” link doesn’t seem to lead anywhere at all. Abengoa has legal problems as well from shareholders and creditors, with claims of misleading investors, and against individual executives. The company lost $1.3 billion last year and paid employees late.

They’ve also done projects in Central and South America. In 2007 they established the world’s first commercial solar thermal power plant on the outskirts of Seville. That year their stock hit a record high of €7.39 a share. In November, the share price had fallen below 40 euro cents. It’s now hovering around 71 euro cents.

Meanwhile up north in Maine: from Bloomberg:

Despite long winters, a famously foggy coastline and relatively few solar panels in operation, Maine is emerging as a pivotal U.S. state for determining how consumers will pay for power generated by the sun.

U.S. solar installations have boomed more than 10-fold in the past five years, driven in part by a policy known as net metering that requires utilities to pay their customers for extra solar energy from rooftop panels. That’s lowered consumers’ monthly bills, and also cuts into revenue for utilities that still must contend with their own fixed costs — spurring conflict between traditional power companies and solar providers.

The permanent problem with the sun is that sunlight is diffuse. The major greenhouse gas is water vapor, which we recognize as clouds. especially here on the Northwest coast where there is not a speck of blue sky today. Note the lovely photograph of the sun at the top of this post, and — the extensive clouds.

US solar installations have increased by 10-fold in the past five years driven by a federal policy  called net metering that requires utilities to pay their customers for extra solar energy from rooftop panels. That has lowered customers’ monthly bills, but the utilities still have their own fixed costs, and it cuts into their revenue.

Maine has proposed replacing net metering with a system that lets utilities sign 20-year contracts with residential solar customers. And instead of paying the retail price, as called for under current policies, utilities would pay rates set by regulators.

Because this is the Twenty First Century, as we are so frequently reminded, the greens are sure there is a technological fix just around the corner, and energy storage will cease to be a problem. But every known rare earth has been tried and found wanting.

Elon Musk’s Tesla Powerwall is meant to be a daily use battery. Tesla has announced prices of $3,000 and $3,500, but that does not include the inverter, and with installation it comes to $7,340. It requires about 7.5 kilowatt hours to charge the Powerwall, providing about  5.4 kilowatt hours of power once charged. The Institute for Energy Research found that it would require a payback period of 38 years which is almost 4 times the warranty period of 10 years for the Powerwall. Even if solar power were used to charge the Powerwall the payback period would be 31 years. The obvious problem is that for home use, we require electricity most when the sun has gone down.

The government’s idea was that by stimulating greater consumer demand with subsidies, production would increase and costs would go down, but in the meantime the industry believes that solar is a complete non-starter unless utilities are forced to pay extremely unrealistic prices for solar energy produced by households with solar panels. It’s not just Maine, even in sunny Nevada solar requires huge subsidies.

Progressives are sure that the government can just order utilities to charge less for their services, much like ObamaCare just assumes that hospitals and doctors can be forced to accept less payment for their services and all will be well. Most of the problems with our frighteningly large national debt and yearly deficits are due to the fact that Progressives just don’t understand the free market at all. They only understand the pursuit of power and an ever-larger government.



This May Be The Most Spectacular Failure Of Solar Power Ever by The Elephant's Child

https://americanelephant.files.wordpress.com/2014/11/xivanpah-plant-575x383-pagespeed-ic-p4ozkp2she.jpg?w=420

“Natural” is a ubiquitous word, especially for all things environmental. Wind and solar energy are held in high esteem largely because they are “natural.” Unfortunately, the word doesn’t mean much of anything, you only have to consider its opposite —”unnatural”— to point out how meaningless it is.

But for the environmental movement, natural is a very big deal indeed. We should draw our energy from the wind and the sun, eliminate unnatural chemicals from our diet, stop cutting down trees, save endangered species, but stop putting animals in cages, and stop eating meat. The word “natural” moved right to the top of the advertising buzz-word list.

So it is no surprise that in the panic about Global Warming, which was the next big thing after we stopped panicking about a new ice age in the 1970s, and the threat of a nuclear winter receded, we turned to trying to harness the power of the sun. Sensible people pointed out that the power of the sun was very diffuse, the sun had the habit of sinking below the horizon at night, and there was the problem of cloudy days and clouds on even nice days. But this is America, and the Twenty-First Century, as we are so frequently reminded, and we have technology!

The 2.2 billion Ivanpah solar project in California’s Mojave Desert is definitely high-tech. Those tiny white rectangles in the picture above are more than 170,000 mirrors, each about the size of a garage door, that rotate to follow the path of the sun across the sky. Solar-thermal technology was meant to supersede old-fashioned solar panel farms. The mirrors would reflect the sunlight to the huge “power towers,” enormous pillars to create steam which would generate electricity. It is not only the world’s largest solar project, it is also known as “the world’s largest outdoor bird fryer.”

The facility was built by Bright Source Energy Inc, and operated by NRG Energy Inc. NRG owns the facility along with Bright Source, Google and other investors. When I wrote about Ivanpah last November, they were delivering only 40% of their promised electricity, and they were trying to get a federal grant to pay off their $1.6 billion federal loan.

Now comes news that the Ivanpah solar plant may be forced to shut down. It is not producing the electricity it is contractually required to deliver to PG&E Corp., which says the solar plant may be forced to shut down if they don’t receive a break from state regulators. PG&E is asking the California Public Utilities Commission for permission to overlook the shortfall and give Ivanpah another year to sort out its problems. The extension request is opposed by some consumer groups, who are complaining that the cost of the electricity from the struggling plant is exorbitant. There is no mention in the article of whether or not they got the federal grant to pay off their federal loan. The high-tech power towers just aren’t working as advertised.

The huge array is owned by BrightSource Energy Inc., NRG Energy Inc. and Alphabet Inc.’s Google. Government subsidy is what brings these projects to fruition and what brings investors who expect to be rewarded by the government subsidies. Over and over, across the world, when taxpayer subsidy is removed, the project shuts down.

In neighboring Nevada I had read recently that when Nevada withdrew the state subsidy, Elon Musk pulled out, but I apparently didn’t save the article.When I consulted Google, the headlines from the articles about Elon Musk and SolarCity are so completely fascinating that I couldn’t resist linking to that page. Do scroll down slowly to get the full picture. The federal government has no business using taxpayer money to pick winners and losers in the business marketplace.

California’s one remaining nuclear power plant, Diablo Canyon, produces more than twice as much clean, environmentally friendly electricity than all of California’s solar power installations combined. Environmentalists, of course, are trying to shut it down. (click to enlarge)

Diablo(h/t: Steven Hayward@ Powerline)



Here ‘s Patrick Moore Explaining the Real Facts About CO2 by The Elephant's Child

“Since time immemorial, our climate has been and will always be changing. Patrick Moore explains why “climate change,” far from being a recent human-caused disaster, is, for a myriad of complex reasons, a fact of life on Planet Earth.”

Some scientists saw global temperatures climbing and noticed that at the same time, the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere was climbing. Big Aha! moment.  But as scientists keep telling us—correlation does not prove causation.

At the beginning of this delusion, climate scientists were not the leading lights in the faculty lounge, but when governments, accepting the UN’s IPCC as the authoritative source on all things climate, started to try to protect us from catastrophic global warming. suddenly there were grants and attention and new equipment for the labs and they began to be interviewed and became important, and the press wallowed in their authoritative utterances. The grants were all for proving the fact that the globe was warming unnaturally because, of the evildoing of humans for drawing fossil fuels from the bosom of the Earth instead of commuting on bicycles as they should.

It was discovered that the thermometer sites on which readings of national temperatures depended were not accurate at all because some idiots had put them right next to the heat vents from air conditioners or where sunlight reflected off concrete walls increasing temperatures abnormally. Then we had “the Pause” when global temperatures as measured by satellites stopped climbing. And they stopped climbing for over 19 years, yet the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere kept increasing. Causation would seem to have gone out the window, but true believers don’t give up easily, and the recipients of  grants and subsidies don’t give up easily either.



The Hidden Ramifications of a Drop in the Price of a Gallon of Gas by The Elephant's Child

photo_main

The price of oil has dived, which is a boon for Americans who are filling up their gas tanks, partly as a result of ‘Fracking,’ and partly because the Saudis have opened the spigot on their oil reserves. For drivers, it’s a wonderful drop in the cost of commuting, and a bit more freedom in the family budget. For oil field workers, it has meant layoffs for many.  For investors in oil futures, it’s scary. For many businesses it’s a drop in their costs and a welcome boost in the bottom line.

For the Saudis, it means that Iran loses money on the sale of their oil because their break-even cost is far higher than the current cost of a barrel of oil. The Saudis fear major attacks by ISIS or Iran. The intricacies of Middle East relationships are fascinating but puzzling. Most Middle East countries are composed of tribes with different religions, different histories and different cultures.

Here at home, an article from Bloomberg Business chronicles just how complicated it all is, yet we need to understand. Laredo, Texas is a border town. One hundred and fifteen million people cross into Texas legally from Mexico every year, most of them just on a shopping expedition. By some estimates those shoppers are responsible for one of every two retail dollars spent in Laredo. They buy jeans, smart phones, toys, products that are more costly or not available in Nuevo Laredo. The peso has dropped 26 percent in relation to the dollar.

What’s different this year is that Eagle Ford, one of the big oil fields behind the surge in U.S. oil output in the past half-decade h as slashed production in response to the drop in the price of oil. Many of the storefronts on the downtown’s main commercial drag, and others near the river are boarded up or braced with metal grids over the windows.  Silvia Guerra’s popular turquoise-colored crepe satin priced at $8.50 a yard, cost Mexicans 127 pesos last year and is 152 pesos today.

Crude prices have plummeted 70 percent since June 2014, idling oil rigs. All Texas border cities are feeling the pinch, but Laredo’s merchants say business is off 50 percent or more.  Laredo has four international bridges, and is the country’s biggest inland port.

Sylvia Guerra’s store has racks of dresses and colorful rolls of fabric, but purchases are rare, and her business is dead. She suspects she will be out of business by May. Her husband has lost his job leasing drilling equipment for Weatherford International Plc. Their daughter is an administrator for Baker Hughes Inc. in San Antonio was told her position is at risk after major layoffs at the oil services company. Their son who supervises fracking operations for C&J Energy Services has seen his paycheck shrink so much he’s looking for an additional part-time job.

It’s just interesting to see how a change in the price of a barrel of oil plays out around the world, and around the country. It’s a lot more complicated than we think.

Today’s price of a gallon of regular gas at the pump, and a year ago:

In Washington State today: $2.09.  A year ago, it was $2.82. In California today: $2,45.  A year ago, it was $3,94. In Texas today, gas is $1.60, a year ago it averaged $2.25. In Ohio, the average is $1.87, down from $2,38 a year ago. And in Pennsylvania, the average today is $1.91, while a year ago it was 2.60. Being close to a refinery helps, as does having a handy oil field in your backyard. As you can see, it is a significant drop in the family budget, depending on how many miles you drive in a week.

Of course state officials have noticed that you aren’t paying quite so much for gas and see this as a dandy opportunity to raise gas taxes.




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