Friday, January 13, 2017

GWPF Newsletter: The End Of Germany’s Energiewende?

Rex Tillerson Says Climate Science 'Inconclusive'

In this newsletter:

1) The End Of Germany’s Energiewende?
Energy Post, 10 January 2017

2) German Government Considers Fixed Licence Fee To Finance Green Energy  Subsidies
Bizz Energy, 8 January 2017

3) Rex Tillerson Says Climate Science 'Inconclusive'
Yahoo News, 11 January 2017

4) Interview With Willam Happer
The Best Schools, 8 January 2017
5) U.S. Energy Outlook: Growing Output, Growing Security, Growing Fossil Fuels
Energy Tomorrow, 11 January 2017
6) UK Climate Minister Backs Fracking
The Times, 11 January 2017

Full details:

1) The End Of Germany’s Energiewende?
Energy Post, 10 January 2017

The prominent German economist Heiner Flassbeck has challenged fundamental assumptions of the Energiewende at his blog site According to Flassbeck, the former Director of Macroeconomics and Development at the  United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) in Geneva and a former State Secretary of Finance, a recent period of extremely low solar and wind power generation shows that Germany will never be able to rely on renewable energy, regardless of how much new capacity will be built.

Heiner Fassbeck

The End of the Energiewende?

Stable high-pressure winter weather has resulted in a confrontation. An Energiewende that relies mainly on wind and solar energy will not work in the long run. One cannot forgo nuclear power, eliminate fossil fuels, and tell people that electricity supplies will remain secure all the same.

We have attempted unsuccessfully to find Energiewende advocates willing to explain that inconsistency. Their silence is not easy to fathom. But maybe the events themselves have made the outcome inevitable.

With nuclear power no longer available, a capacity of at least 50 gigawatts is required by other means, despite an enormously expanded network of wind turbines and solar systems

This winter could go down in history as the event that proved the German energy transition to be unsubstantiated and incapable of becoming a success story. Electricity from wind and solar generation has been catastrophically low for several weeks. December brought new declines. A persistent winter high-pressure system with dense fog throughout Central Europe has been sufficient to unmask the fairy tale of a successful energy transition, even for me as a lay person.

This is a setback, because many people had placed high hopes in the Energiewende. I likewise never expected to see large-scale solar arrays and wind turbines, including those offshore, motionless for days on end. The data compiled by Agora Energiewende on the individual types of electricity generation have recorded the appalling results for sun and wind at the beginning of December and from the 12th to 14th:

Of power demand totaling 69.0 gigawatts (GW) at 3 pm on the 12th, for instance, just 0.7 GW was provided by solar energy, 1.0 by onshore wind power and 0.4 offshore. At noontime on the 14th of December, 70 GW were consumed, with 4 GW solar, 1 GW onshore and somewhat over 0.3 offshore wind. The Agora graphs make apparent that such wide-ranging doldrums may persist for several days.

You do not need to be a technician, an energy expert, or a scientist to perceive the underlying futility of this basic situation. You simply need common sense, shelving expectations and prognoses for a moment, while extrapolating the current result to future developments. Let us suppose that today’s wind and solar potential could be tripled by 2030, allowing almost all of the required energy to be obtained from these two sources under normal weather conditions. This is an extremely optimistic scenario and certainly not to be expected, because current policy is slowing down the expansion of renewable energy sources rather than accelerating it.

One cannot simultaneously rely on massive amounts of wind and sunshine, dispense with nuclear power plants (for very good reasons), significantly lower the supply of fossil energy, and nevertheless tell people that electricity will definitely be available in the future.

If a comparable lull occurred in 2030 (stable winter high systems that recur every few years), then three times the number of solar panels and wind turbines (assuming current technologies) could logically produce only three times the amount of electricity. The deficiency of prevailing winds and sunshine will affect all of these installations, no matter how many there are. Even threefold wind and solar generation would then fulfill just 20% of requirements – again very optimistically – assuming that demand had not increased by 2030.

Redistribution effects
However, precisely the opposite can be expected, namely a massive increase in consumption due to the substitution of fossil fuels by electrically powered automobiles that require increased generation. The possibility of saving so much energy in this short time, enabling overall consumption to be decreased despite abandoning fossil fuels, can be confidently ignored. For that to happen, the price of fossil energy would have to rise dramatically, which is not to be expected, and one would have to compensate for the resulting redistribution effects that are politically even less likely.

Accordingly, Germany would end up with a catastrophic result 30 years after the start of the Energiewende. With nuclear power no longer available, a capacity of at least 50 gigawatts is required by other means, despite an enormously expanded network of wind turbines and solar systems under comparable weather conditions. Those other means according to current knowledge will be provided by coal, oil and gas.

In other words, one cannot simultaneously rely on massive amounts of wind and sunshine, dispense with nuclear power plants (for very good reasons), significantly lower the supply of fossil energy, and nevertheless tell people that electricity will definitely be available in the future. Exactly that, however, is what politics largely does almost every day. It is quite irresponsible to persuade citizens that from 2030 onwards only electrically-powered new cars may be allowed, as has recently been propagated in the highest political circles.

Full post

Talk by Prof Fritz Vahrenholt
The Crisis of Germany's Energiewende

17 January 2017, 6pm -- House of Commons, Committee Room 9, London SW1A 0PW

To register, please email 

2) German Government Considers Fixed Licence Fee To Finance Green Energy  Subsidies
Bizz Energy, 8 January 2017

What comes after the Renewable Energy Act (EEG)? The Federal  Ministry of Economics has commissioned an expert report about this very question: Should consumers pay a fixed amount for renewable energy subsidies from 2021?

This report could continue to fuel the discussion about the billion-dollar financing of renewable energy. The Federal Ministry of Economics has just published a call for tenders for a comprehensive report. By the end of 2019, external consultants are to clarify where the money for new wind turbines, solar farms and other green energy schemes is to come from after 2020 when important EU guidelines on renewables subsides end.

The following sentence in the document from Sigmar Gabriel ‘s ministry is the most significant for consumers: "Examples of possible sources of income are taxes, duties or levies. These can have a fixed or consumption-based assessment basis. “A fixed basis of assessment” would be a change to future funding based on the model of broadcasting licence fees.

No matter how much electricity a household or company consumes, a fixed licence fee per year would have to be paid. To date, green energy subsidies are based on electricity consumption per kilowatt hour. The new system would mean that typical households with low power consumption, i.e. single and low-income earners, would primarily shoulder the burden.

Translation GWPF

3) Rex Tillerson Says Climate Science 'Inconclusive'
Yahoo News, 11 January 2017

Image result for Rex Tillerson 11 January

During questioning at the Senate on Wednesday, ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson, President-elect Trump's choice to be secretary of state, answered a question from Sen. Jeff Merkley on climate change by stating that research on the subject is "inconclusive." Tillerson also said that he does not see it as "the imminent national security threat other people do."

4) Interview With Willam Happer
The Best Schools, 8 January 2017

William Happer is the Cyrus Fogg Brackett Professor of Physics, Emeritus, in the Department of Physics at Princeton University. A long-time member of JASON, a group of scientists which provides independent advice to the U.S. government on matters relating to science, technology, and national security, Happer served as Director of the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science from 1991–1993. [He is a member of the GWPF's Academic Advisory Council].

Best known to the general public as a vocal critic of the U.N. IPCC “consensus” on global warming, he has been called frequently to give expert testimony before various U.S. congressional committees on the subject of global warming (climate change). In 2015, he found himself at the center of a new controversy involving a so-called “sting” operation organized by Greenpeace.

A list of some of Professor Happer’s major research publications may be accessed here.

Professor Happer: Thank you very much for agreeing to this interview, and to participate in the upcoming Focused Civil Dialogue on global warming with the Australian physicist, David Karoly. The global warming controversy is both exceedingly complicated and highly charged emotionally. Our goal in these interviews is to lay the groundwork for a productive Focused Civil Dialogue between you and Professor Karoly. In this interview, we will explore the issues from a number of different angles, both scientific and political .

William Happer
[...] I learned a lot about the atmosphere at JASON. I was involved in the analysis of “thermal blooming” of high-power lasers when they are weakly absorbed by H2O and CO2molecules in the atmosphere. The physics is closely related to that of greenhouse warming. I learned about the physics of the tropopause, where much of the wavefront distortion of starlight or defensive laser beams takes place. I was one of 14 JASON coauthors of one the first books on global warming, with the nerdy title, The Long-Term Impacts of Increasing Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide Levels, edited by Gordon J. MacDonald (Ballinger Publishing Co., 1982). We over-predicted the warming from more CO2 as badly as later establishment models, a topic to which I will return below.

My invention of the sodium guide star gave me some credibility in parts of the US government, but since the work was highly classified in the first few years, only a few scientists knew about it. I scrupulously avoided working on related areas with my university students. But based on this classified notoriety, I was elected to be Chair of the JASON steering committee in 1987, and in 1990 I was appointed Director of the Office of Energy Research at the US Department of Energy (DOE) by President George H. W. Bush, where I served under Secretary of Energy, James Watkins, until the election of President Bill Clinton and Vice-President Al Gore in the 1992 election. I served for three more months under Secretary Hazel O’Leary in the spring of 1993. I was fortunate that both Secretaries of Energy were supportive of basic science, the responsibility of my office.

The DOE Office of Science had an annual budget of over $3 billion at that time, more than the National Science Foundation. It funded almost all of DOE’s non-weapons basic research, including a great deal of environmental science and climate science. This was my first encounter with the climate establishment, and I was surprised to find environmental science so different from high-energy physics, nuclear physics, materials science, the human genome, and the many other areas we had responsibility for. I insisted that my assistant directors arrange for regular seminars, given by principal investigators of grants we supported. In most fields, principal investigators were delighted that government bureaucrats were actually interested in their research. They enjoyed being questioned during their talks, since this allowed them to show off their erudition. But, with honorable exceptions, principal investigators working on environmental issues were reluctant to come to our Washington offices, and evasive about answering the questions that were so welcome to briefers from other fields.

About three months after the beginning of the Clinton administration, Hazel O’Leary called me into her office to ask, “What have you done to Al Gore? I am told I have to fire you.” I assume that the main thing that upset Al Gore (left) was my questioning of blatant propaganda about stratospheric ozone that was his focus at the time: “ozone holes over Kennebunkport” and similar nonsense. Although Secretary O’Leary offered to find a way to keep me at DOE as a civil servant, I was glad to have an excuse to get back to doing real science at Princeton University, which was kind enough to offer me a professorship again.

For the next few years after my return to Princeton in 1993, I was very busy working on an exciting new project on magnetic resonance imaging with laser polarized nuclei that my young colleague, Professor Gordon Cates, and his students had pioneered while I was at DOE. But watching the evening news, I would often be outraged by the distortions about CO2 and climate that were being intoned by hapless, scientifically-illiterate newscasters. My wife Barbara, who patiently sat through my outbursts, finally said, “Why don’t you speak up?” At Barbara’s urging, I began to speak up and I have never stopped.

Full interview

5) U.S. Energy Outlook: Growing Output, Growing Security, Growing Fossil Fuels
Energy Tomorrow, 11 January 2017

Sometime in the mid-2020s, U.S. energy officials project, two key lines measuring energy imports and exports will cross, and the United States will have achieved something quite special – the advent of an era in which America is a net energy exporter.

That’s one of the big projections contained in the U.S. Energy Information Administration’s newly released Annual Energy Outlook for 2017 (AEO2017). It’s largely the result of expected declining oil imports and rising natural gas exports. EIA’s charts:

On the left we see the larger exports and imports measured in quadrillion British thermal units (Btu). On the right, net energy trade of various commodities, with net imports of petroleum and other liquids falling steeply and net exports of natural gas growing. EIA Administrator Adam Sieminski:

“Exports – the thing to watch here is in the reference case … the U.S. becomes a slight (net) energy exporter. The big differences come with low oil prices, you’re still importing, with a low technology case you’re still importing. You get just the opposite with a high oil price or a high technology case. So yes, the U.S. could be completely – I think the phrase that was used at one time was energy independent. In certain cases, even in the reference case, we’re a net exporter of energy, largely because of what’s happening in the natural gas area.”

Sieminski put a finer point on where EIA projects this key measure of U.S. energy security is headed:

“Given what we know about how things have changed over the past 10 years, that I would not underline that EIA thinks we are going to continue to be a net importer. These numbers could be a little bit higher, they could be a little bit lower. It wouldn’t surprise me, in a reference case two or three years from now, as technology keeps improving, that the U.S. could be a net exporter even in the reference case.”

The significance is that when EIA’s “reference case” – its baseline projection based on current technologies, statutes and policies – projects the U.S. as a net energy exporter, that’s a big deal for American energy self-sufficiency and security. Technological advances, favorable market conditions and other positive energy factors would only improve the picture. Sieminski:

“EIA’s projections show how advances in technology are driving oil and natural gas production, renewables penetration, and demand-side efficiencies and reshaping the energy future. …  In the reference case we see energy production rising, especially in the period out to 2025, flattening out a little bit then but still drifting upward to a little over a hundred quadrillion Btus. U.S. energy production continues upward, led by dry natural gas production, and that has a lot to do with shale. Crude oil and lease condensate also rises in the near term.”

What we’re seeing, of course, are the positive supply impacts of the U.S. energy renaissance – dramatic increases in domestic oil and natural gas production over the past several years, thanks to the safe development of shale and other tight-rock formations using hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling. Fracking is the technological engine that’s driving the United States toward greater energy security and opening trade avenues for American energy around the world. [...]
EIA projects that domestic energy use will be relatively flat out to 2040, but that the mix of energy use will see big changes:
In that mix, oil and natural gas are projected to continue leading the U.S. energy portfolio. The chart below, based on AEO2017 projections, shows oil and gas will supply about 66 percent of the energy Americans use this year, growing to 68 percent in 2050. (BTW, AEO2017 is the first EIA report that includes projections about to 2050).
EIA’s report underscores the need for forward-looking energy policies that support production that will address America’s projected energy needs – especially in the context of projected increased global demand.  
Full story

6) UK Climate Minister Backs Fracking
The Times, 11 January 2017
Ben Webster

Fracking could give Britain a cheap and abundant source of home-produced energy and it would be “irresponsible to future generations” to ignore its potential benefits, according to the climate change minister.

Nick Hurd told MPs that exploring for shale gas was consistent with the government’s commitment to tackling climate change.

He appeared before the Commons business, energy and industrial strategy committee as protests continued near two sites in Lancashire and North Yorkshire earmarked for fracking.

Mr Hurd said: “I look at shale gas through the lens of energy security. We import a lot of gas. If we have got the capacity to generate our own gas in the country and we can do it cost effectively while reassuring people about the impact on the environment, I think it would be irresponsible to future generations not to answer the question ‘can we do it?’

Full story 

The London-based Global Warming Policy Forum is a world leading think tank on global warming policy issues. The GWPF newsletter is prepared by Director Dr Benny Peiser - for more information, please visit the website at

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