Sunday, November 12, 2017

GWPF Newsletter - NASA: Volcanic Activity Is Heating Up Antarctica’s Ice Sheet








Climate Targets Threaten Germany’s Prosperity, Ministry Of Economy Warns

In this newsletter:

1) NASA: Volcanic Activity Is Heating Up Antarctica’s Ice Sheet
Daily Caller, 7 November 2017 

2) Are Underwater Volcanoes Causing Global Warming? 
Daily Mail, 6 February 2015 



 3) Climate Targets Threaten Germany’s Prosperity, Ministry Of Economy Warns
Jan Dams, Die Welt, 8 November 2017

4) Green Energy Crash: Vestas Shares Dive 17% On Concerns Over Us Subsidy Cuts
Financial Times, 9 November 2017 

5) Paradise Papers: Prince Charles Lobbied On Climate Policy After Shares Purchase
Paradise Papers reporting team BBC Panorama, 7 November 2017

6) New Data Confirms Offshore Wind Costs Are Rising Not Falling
GWPF Energy, 8 November 2017 

7) GWPF Podcast: Interview With Rupert Darwall On ‘Green Tyranny’
GWPF Podcast, 8 November 2017 

8) With America’s ‘Clean Coal’ Flagship Dead, Is CCS Still Credible?
Chris Lo, Power Technology, 8 November 2017 


Full details:

1) NASA: Volcanic Activity Is Heating Up Antarctica’s Ice Sheet
Daily Caller, 7 November 2017

Ancient underground streams of heated rock, called a mantle plume, might be an explanation for the instability of Antarctica’s western ice sheet, according to a new NASA study.



Scientists have been debating whether or not mantle plume heat contributes to western Antarctica’s instability. Some recent studies provided evidence this might be the case, but even this study’s authors were skeptical.

“I thought it was crazy,” Hélène Seroussi, the study’s co-author and scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, said in a release.

“I didn’t see how we could have that amount of heat and still have ice on top of it,” Seroussi said in a statement.

NASA says Seroussi’s study provides more evidence of geothermal activity underneath a portion of the world’s largest ice sheet.

Scientists tend to worry more about future global warming’s effect on Antarctic ice sheet. NASA glaciologist Eric Rignot said western ice sheet collapse is “unstoppable” and could dramatically raise sea levels.

However, Antarctica has gone through periods of instability in the past. Seroussi’s study provides important context for the western ice sheet’s instability, and how mantle plumes may play a role.

Seroussi and co-author Erik Ivins used enhanced numerical modeling to see if a mantle plume could really be creating rivers of melted water under Marie Byrd Land in western Antarctica. They compared their model to real-world observations of changes in the ice sheet.

Full story 
 

2) Are Underwater Volcanoes Causing Global Warming? 
Daily Mail, 6 February 2015 

Volcanoes lurking hidden under the world's oceans may play a far greater role in climate change than previously thought, according to a new study.



Scientists have found that underwater volcanoes, which were long assumed to ooze lava at relatively steady rates, in fact erupt in pulses.

A new study has shown that these submarine eruptions follow regular cycles that can range from just a couple of weeks to 100,000 years.

The researchers claim these eruptions appear to be linked to changes in the Earth's orbit that occur over time.

One of the most intriguing findings by the new study of underwater volcanic eruptions is that they appear to follow a seasonal pattern.

Data collected by Dr Maya Tolstoy from Columbia University showed that almost all undersea eruptions recorded in the past 25 years occur in the first six months of the year.

This may be because January is the month when the Earth is closest to the sun and July is when it is at it's farthest, creating slight squeezing and unsqueezing as it moves.

This may be similar to the effect that Dr Tolstoy detected on longer timescales as the shape of the Earth's orbit changes.

There may also be some affect caused by changes in sea level as water trapped in the ice around the Arctic and then melts.

Dr Tolstoy said: 'If you look at the present-day eruptions, volcanoes respond even to much smaller forces than the ones that might drive climate.'

Surprisingly the researchers also found that these eruptions also appear to be clustered during the first six months of each year.

The findings may now mean that models predicting how human activity will change the climate will need to be adjusted.

Volcanic eruptions are known to throw huge amounts of gas into the atmosphere, including carbon dioxide that are thought to increase global warming.

However, volcanoes also release aerosol gases that are now known to reduce global warming by creating a reflective barrier against the sun.

Dr Maya Tolstoy, a marine geophysicist at the Lamond-Doherty Earth Observatory at Columbia University, said:

 'People have ignored seafloor volcanoes on the idea that their influence is small, but that’s because they are assumed to be in a steady state, which they’re not.

'They respond to both very large forces, and to very small ones, and that tells us that we need to look at them much more closely.'

Full story
 

3) Climate Targets Threaten Germany’s Prosperity, Ministry Of Economy Warns
Jan Dams, Die Welt, 8 November 2017

Germany will miss its 2030 climate targets by a mile. This emerges from calculations by the Federal Ministry of Economics. Trying to do so would risk Germany’s economic prosperity.





Experts at the Federal Ministry of Economics have written an eight-page briefing paper for  participants at the exploratory coalition talks currently underway in Berlin. The paper’s main conclusion: Germany will miss its climate targets by a mile. From an economic point of view, it is impossible to achieve the 2030 goals which were promised by the outgoing CDU-SPD coalition government. Trying to do so would risk the economic prosperity of the country.

The paper, a copy of which WELT has obtained, states:
“According to the current estimate for the year 2016 the level of greenhouse gas emissions since 1990 – i.e. in more than 25 years – has been reduced by about 28 percent.” For the remaining 13 years until 2030, Germany has set itself the goal of reducing emissions by further 27 percent.

“In order to achieve this target, the level of reduction per year would have to be almost twice as high as in the past 26 years.” This is an “extremely ambitious – more precisely – not realisable goal”.

Worse still, the experts warn against accelerating the implementation of the 2030 targets to the detriment of Germany’s industry which has already had done a lot. When it comes to policies in the industrial sector the fact should be taken into account that German industry, unlike other sectors, is particularly exposed to international competition and that any additional costs for CO2 reduction directly undermine the competitiveness of industry.

There is a risk that important industries will migrate to countries where there are fewer environmental regulations. A significantly stronger reduction of CO2 emissions “by 2020 would only be possible by partial de-industrialisation of Germany.”

This is a prospect feared particularly by the Liberal Party (FDP) and the Christian Democrats (CDU) in the coalition talks. All parties must budge now, Michael Theurer of the Liberals is demanding.

“The climate targets of the grand coalition government are unrealistic.” The CDU must acknowledge that. The Greens, on the other hand, should realise that unilateralism would not help the climate but endanger Germany’s prosperity. And his party would have to acknowledge that ambitious climate targets are needed.

All the same, the Green Party is showing willingness to compromise. Among other issues, the Greens so far had demanded a rigorous closure of coal-fired power plants and a fixed time for the end of the internal combustion engine. The latter, at least, has been abandoned by party leader Cem Özdemir.

Which is good, because the briefing paper by the outgoing Federal Government does not only warn of the consequences for the industry, if the climate targets should be achieved at any price. According to recent forecasts, the Federal Republic misses will miss its 2020 climate targets by five to six percent. And there is hardly any realistic chance to change that.

A quick exit from coal-fired power generation, as demanded by the Greens, would result in social problems. First of all, an economic perspective for affected mining regions would have to be developed. Not least because coal-fired power plants are also an important factor for stable electricity supply to the economy.

Carsten Linnemann, Chairman of the CDU’s Business Association, is therefore calling for the Federal Network Agency to be included in the coalition talks. “They are the only ones who can calculate the consequences of individual measures for base-load electricity and energy prices,” he says.

“The implementation of climate targets must not lead to a decline of the industrial share in Germany’s economy.”

The German Industry Association (BDI) is even more drastic in its demands: To be sure, the government has formulated the goal of reducing national greenhouse gas emissions by 80 to 95 percent by 2050 compared to 1990.

“The national 95-percent target must be abandoned if no comparably ambitious target can be achieved at global level,” a BDI paper concludes. The financing of investment would have to be on the political agenda. Additional investments of at least 1.5 trillion euros would be necessary for the 80% target alone.

Translation GWPF
 

4) Green Energy Crash: Vestas Shares Dive 17% On Concerns Over Us Subsidy Cuts
Financial Times, 9 November 2017 

Shares in Vestas plunged by 17 per cent after the world’s largest wind turbine manufacturer lowered its profit guidance on the prospect of cuts in US subsidies.



The wind industry has been unsettled by parts of the US House of Representatives’ proposal on tax reform that could make renewable energy projects significantly more expensive.

Marika Fredriksson, Vestas’ chief financial officer, told the Financial Times that uncertainty over the future of the so-called production tax credit led the Danish group to trim its guidance for the year. Its underlying operating profit margin this year should be 12-13 per cent, down from a range of 12-14 per cent.

“We don’t know what the Senate will decide. What is clear is that if it is approved in its current shape and form it will have an impact on the PTC . . . and that is reflected in the guidance,” she added.

Investors, already rattled by the outlook in the US with shares down 10 per cent this month before the guidance change, sent Vestas down 17.3 per cent to DKr436.1 on Thursday morning. It was the biggest fall in its shares since 2012, when there were fears over its financial collapse.

Full story

see also 
Siemens industrial profit drops as turbines, wind struggle
 
5) Paradise Papers: Prince Charles Lobbied On Climate Policy After Shares Purchase
Paradise Papers reporting team BBC Panorama, 7 November 2017

Prince Charles campaigned to alter climate-change agreements without disclosing his private estate had an offshore financial interest in what he was promoting, BBC Panorama has found.



The Paradise Papers show the Duchy of Cornwall in 2007 secretly bought shares worth $113,500 in a Bermuda company that would benefit from a rule change.

The prince was a friend of a director of Sustainable Forestry Management Ltd.

The Duchy of Cornwall says he has no direct involvement in its investments.

A Clarence House spokesman said the Prince of Wales had “certainly never chosen to speak out on a topic simply because of a company that it may have invested in.

“In the case of climate change his views are well known, indeed he has been warning of the threat of global warming to our environment for over 30 years.
“Carbon markets are just one example that the prince has championed since the 1990s and which he continues to promote today.”

‘Conflict of interest’

He added Prince Charles was “free to offer thoughts and suggestions on a wide range of topics” and “cares deeply” about the issue of climate change but “it is for others to decide whether to take the advice”.

Sir Alistair Graham, former chairman of the Committee on Standards in Public Life, said Prince Charles’s actions amounted to a serious conflict of interest.
He said: “There’s a conflict of interest between his own investments of the Duchy of Cornwall and what he’s trying to achieve publicly.

“And I think it’s unfortunate that somebody of his importance, of his influence, becomes involved in such a serious conflict.”

Full story
 

6) New Data Confirms Offshore Wind Costs Are Rising Not Falling
GWPF Energy, 8 November 2017 
Dr John Constable: GWPF Energy Editor

New data relating to the sale of a 50% share in the Walney Offshore Wind Farm extension project confirms the conclusions of the GWPF’s recent study, Offshore Wind Strike Prices: Behind the Headlines (2017): offshore wind capital costs are not falling, and appear to be rising due to the costs of construction in deeper water.

Ørsted, the new name for the company formerly known as DONG, is developing a 660 MW extension to the Walney Offshore Wind Farm in the Irish Sea, the two existing phases of which already total 367 MW and have been in operation since 2011.

The extension is between 20 and 30 kilometres from the Cumbrian coast, and in water of 20 metres to 40 metres in depth. By any standards this is a very remarkable and ambitious project.

In the last few days, Ørsted has announced the sale for £2 billion of a fifty per cent stake in the Extension to two Danish pension funds, PKA and PFA, which will each take 25 per cent (Financial Times“Orsted to sell half of the world’s largest wind farm for £2bn”. (This is consistent with DONG’s underlying strategy, which is raise cash for the building of a windfarm by the sale of a large stake in the project. Walney 1 and Walney 2, for example, are part owned with PGGM and Ampère Equity Fund (24.8 per cent) and SSE (25.1 per cent) SSE.)

A price of £2 billion for a 50 per cent stake in the Walney extension implies a capital cost of £6 million per MW. Even allowing for the fact that Ørsted may have factored in some degree of compensation for development risk, the capital cost seems certain to exceed £5 million per MW.

This cost would make it one of the most expensive wind farms for which there is public data, as can be seen by referring to the following chart from Hughes, Aris, and Constable, Offshore Wind Strike Prices: Behind the Headlines (2017). On the assumption that the Walney extension will be completed in 2019, conversion to 2012 prices yields an estimated capital cost range for Walney extension of £4.4 million to £5.3 million per MW.

It is relevant to note that the original Walney projects that completed in 2011 were located in water with a maximum depth of 30m, and cost £3.39 million per MW at 2012 prices. This illustrates the points made by Hughes, Constable and Aris that there was an increase in costs up to 2013, and that subsequent cost reductions are offset by the increased cost of necessarily constructing in deeper water.

Feedback: john.constable@thegwpf.com
 

7) GWPF Podcast: Interview With Rupert Darwall On ‘Green Tyranny’
GWPF Podcast, 8 November 2017

Benny Peiser interviews Rupert Darwall about his new book, ‘Green Tyranny: Exposing the Totalitarian Roots of the Climate Industrial Complex’.



Listen here
 

8) With America’s ‘Clean Coal’ Flagship Dead, Is CCS Still Credible?
Chris Lo, Power Technology, 8 November 2017 

A report published by UK-based think tank Global Warming Policy Foundation (GWPF) and authored by Professor Gordon Hughes, economics professor at the University of Edinburgh and former advisor to the World Bank, argues that the economics of CCS, especially for coal, don’t make sense today, and are unlikely to start doing so in the future.

As gloomy portents go, they don’t come much gloomier for ‘clean coal’ than recent developments at the Kemper County energy facility in Mississippi. The 524MW power plant, which has been under construction by Southern Company subsidiary Mississippi Power and its partners since 2010, aimed to gasify cheap, locally mined brown coal using proprietary technology, capture around 65% of the resulting syngas’s CO2 content and pipe it to nearby oil production sites for enhanced oil recovery operations.

For years the Kemper project has been seen as the US’s flagship clean coal project, facilitating a more environmentally responsible means of unlocking abundant local reserves of highly polluting lignite, while demonstrating the viable economics of carbon capture and storage (CCS) at the large, commercial scale.

CCS and the clean coal concept took on a new importance for the US coal industry a few years ago, when the Obama administration proposed carbon emissions standards for new coal-fired plants that would essentially make CCS mandatory to meet the new requirements. While the Trump administration is in the process of unravelling these standards, President Trump himself has regularly cited clean coal as a key justification for his support of the fossil fuel industries.

“There is a thing called clean coal,” Trump said during the second presidential debate in October last year. “Coal will last for a thousand years in this country.”

Kemper power plant: decline and fall

So, when Mississippi Power announced in June this year that the Kemper project was finally giving up on its coal gasification work, switching instead to permanent natural gas operations, it was a stinging blow to the prospects of coal plants backed by CCS in the US and elsewhere. Rather than standing as a working advertisement for clean coal, Kemper has left more doubt than ever that it is more than a complex, costly solution for which the market is unwilling to pay.

The announcement came days after the Mississippi Public Service Commission put pressure on the project partners to abandon Kemper’s lignite coal section, and the companies acknowledged that the suspension of work was “the appropriate step to manage costs given the economics of the project”. And what were those economics? The coal gasification element of the plant’s construction caused a litany of delays and cost increases, which collectively took the project’s price tag to around $7.5bn – $4bn over budget – and pushed it three years behind schedule.

The eventual decision to suspend work on Kemper’s coal gasification units came as little to surprise to anyone who had been keeping up with the progress of the project, which has looked increasingly like a financial black hole for the last several years. Budget blowouts and delays have been a regular part of the project since construction started, and allegations of chronic mismanagement have dogged Southern Company and Mississippi Power. […]

Left behind: wider concerns for CCS

It’s another blow for a technology that is looking increasingly disadvantaged in the modern energy market. The rise of intermittent renewable energy technologies and a surge of inexpensive natural gas has changed the energy landscape and raised questions over whether clean coal, and CCS more broadly, has been left behind.

A new report published by UK-based think tank Global Warming Policy Foundation (GWFP) and authored by Professor Gordon Hughes, economics professor at the University of Edinburgh and former advisor to the World Bank, argues that the economics of CCS, especially for coal, don’t make sense today, and are unlikely to start doing so in the future.

Increasing renewables penetration means that there’s now less demand in developed countries for baseload fossil fuel plants; they are now required more often to back up intermittent clean energy generation, meaning they will operate at lower load factors and need to ramp up and down as required. This situation favours flexible gas plants over coal facilities in general, and also means that plants with CCS installed won’t be able to rely on constant operations to pay back large capital costs.

“Periods when renewable generation is low must be covered by generating plant that can respond quickly and operate economically at load factors of less than 50%,” reads the GWPF’s report. “Coal plants with CCS cannot meet this requirement.”

And CCS price tags remain high, with low general investment – both public and private – slowing the process of driving down technology costs. “[Nth-of-a-kind cost analyses for CCS] grossly underestimate the likely costs of carbon capture over the next 20-30 years,” argues the report. “Even if the learning rate was as high as is assumed, a cumulative investment of $500bn-$600bn in coal power plants with carbon capture and $300bn in gas plants with carbon capture would be required to bring costs down to the NOAK levels reported. There is little likelihood that OECD countries will be willing to commit the funds required.”

Even in the US, where the Trump administration has signalled greater support for the coal industry and where the president himself regularly namechecks clean coal, it looks like any helping hand won’t extend to actually footing the bill for any major CCS research. In May, the government proposed cutting the budget of the Office of Fossil Energy, which funds CCS research, as well as jettisoning a loan facility for private-sector CCS developers.

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 www.thegwpf.com.

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