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Wednesday, December 16, 2020

GWPF Newsletter: EU countries agree to use natural gas and nuclear power for Green Deal

 





How the EU opened the door to natural gas and nuclear energy to coax Green Deal sceptics

In this newsletter:

1) EU countries agree to use natural gas and nuclear power for Green Deal
EurActiv, 15 December 2020

2) EU’s Green Deal based on natural gas as ‘transitional energy’
EurActiv, 14 December 2020

 
3) How the EU opened the door to natural gas and nuclear energy to coax Green Deal sceptics
Reuters, 4 December 2020
 
4) Britain goes nuclear for Net Zero
GWPF, 14 December 2020
 
5) Renewable energy disaster threatens to destroy thousands of jobs
GWPF, 12 December 2020
 
6) Robert Bryce: For nuclear energy to flourish, we need a ‘mindset reversal’ about radiation
Forbes, 24 November 2020
 
7) Car makers warn electric car plans are “far removed from reality”
Auto Express, 10 December 2020
 
8) Covid-19 pandemic to leave millions more petrol cars on the road past 2030
The Times, 14 December 2020
 
9) Vijay Jayaraj: UN’s call for ‘climate emergency’ is an invitation to misery in developing countries
GWPF, 14 December 2020 
 
10) Former environment senator Fritz Vahrenholt: “We are threatened by a dramatic loss of prosperity”
Hamburger Abendblatt, 11 December 2020

Full details:

1) EU countries agree to use natural gas and nuclear power for Green Deal
EurActiv, 15 December 2020

Member states have set aside their divergences on renewable vs ‘low-carbon’ hydrogen to focus on efforts to “rapidly upscale the market for hydrogen at EU level”.

The EU’s 27 member states adopted Council conclusions on hydrogen last Friday (11 December), bringing an end to weeks of tense discussions that saw proponents of renewable-only hydrogen clashing with those supporting a broader ‘low-carbon’ definition that also includes hydrogen made from natural gas and nuclear power.
 
At the end of the day, member states agreed to “rapidly upscale the market for hydrogen at EU level,” recognising that “emphasis should be given to hydrogen from renewable sources” of energy such as wind and solar power.
 
The clean-burning fuel will be used to target “in particular those sectors that are hard to decarbonise through other means” – mainly heavy industries like steelmaking and cement, or long-distance transport, which could struggle to switch 100% to electricity.
 
But at the same time, the Council also emphasised that “there are different safe and sustainable low-carbon technologies for the production of hydrogen” – wording aimed at comforting countries like the Netherlands, Poland and France which are planning to support hydrogen produced either from natural gas or nuclear power.

Full story
 
see also: Green campaigners defeated as EU won’t oppose new nuclear power plants
 
2) EU’s Green Deal based on natural gas as ‘transitional energy’
EurActiv, 14 December 2020
 
Natural gas wins recognition as ‘transitional technology’ to climate neutrality
 

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen (L) and German Chancellor Angela Merkel (R) arrive at a press conference following a face-to-face EU summit, in Brussels, Belgium, 11 December 2020. [EPA-EFE/JOHANNA GERON]
 
The lower carbon intensity of natural gas – which produces half the emissions of coal when burned in power plants – and the emergence of new technologies like hydrogen are setting gas apart from other fossil fuels in the clean energy transition.
 
On Friday, the European Council, which brings together the EU’s 27 national leaders, adopted a new greenhouse gas reduction target for 2030: -55% from 1990 levels, up from the previous target of -40%.
 
In their conclusions, the leaders reaffirmed that it will be up to each member state “to decide on their energy mix and to choose the most appropriate technologies to achieve collectively the 2030 climate target, including transitional technologies such as gas.”
 
The explicit mention of gas is contentious. Gas advocates say it is ideally suited as a transition fuel for coal-reliant countries like Poland and Germany as they make decarbonisation their main priority. This is because it has a lower emissions intensity than other fossil fuels like coal: gas produces on average half the emissions of coal when burned into power plants.
 
But perhaps more importantly, the same infrastructure used for fossil gas could now be used in the future for new gas technologies such biomethane or hydrogen gas.
 
“With the current technology you can abate up to 90% of the CO2 emissions from gas, which is already a lot,” said Luca Giansanti, head of European government affairs at Italian energy company ENI. “Then you have decarbonised and low-carbon gas in the form of blue hydrogen. Technological improvement in the future could bring this percentage up to 100%,” he told a EURACTIV event last week.
 
“The switch from coal to gas is already underway, and through that, gas has been contributing a lot to the reduction of emissions all over Europe. Last year the contribution of gas to decarbonisation, together with renewables, has been impressive.”
 
Full story
 
3) How the EU opened the door to natural gas and nuclear energy to coax Green Deal sceptics
Reuters, 4 December 2020
 
The European Union is offering assurances on funding for poorer members and countries’ ability to choose their own energy mix, as it strives for a deal next week on a tougher target to cut greenhouse gas emissions, according to EU documents and sources.
 
To get on track for its plan to have “net zero” emissions by 2050, the EU’s executive Commission says the bloc must cut its net emissions at least 55% by 2030, from 1990 levels.

The EU’s current 2030 target is for a 40% cut.

Leaders from the 27 EU countries aim to approve the new target – by unanimity – at a summit on 10-11 December.
 
The challenge is to draft a deal that all countries will support – including states concerned by the economic transformation required, such as Poland and Bulgaria, which want more analysis and conditions attached to the goal...
 
The latest draft conclusions for the summit, dated Dec. 1 and seen by Reuters, would see countries endorse the “at least 55” target and ask the Commission to make cash available to help poorer states invest in clean energy – a request made by countries including Poland.
 
It also said countries can “choose the most appropriate technologies” to cut emissions – wording aimed at states including Bulgaria, Czechia, Romania, Slovakia, and Poland which have sought assurances that they will be able to use nuclear power or natural gas to curb emissions.

Full story
 
4) Britain goes nuclear for Net Zero
GWPF, 14 December 2020

Thanks to radical climate activists, governments around the world are planning to build hundreds of new nuclear power plants. New nuclear reactors are also a vital part of Boris Johnson’s pledge to reach net-zero CO2 emissions by 2050.

 
UK nuclear power plants in operation, under construction and in planning
 
The UK government is considering funding Sizewell C, a new nuclear reactor plant in Suffolk. Most of Britain’s nuclear reactors are due to shut down in the next ten years.
 
A Chinese state company which has a 20 per cent stake in Sizewell C is reported to be pulling out, increasing the need for new investors. More nuclear reactors are now likely to be built in Britain in coming years.
 
Nuclear Developers Dust Off Plans for More Reactors in U.K.
Bloomberg
 
Nuclear power developers are refreshing plans for new reactors in the U.K. after speculation that the government could be willing to support building more plants than the industry had been expecting.
 
A little-noticed paper issued by the Treasury on Nov. 25 said it is important that the U.K. can “maintain options by pursuing additional large-scale nuclear projects,” assuming they can be done in a cost-effective way. That wording, with a notable plural on the word “projects,” went beyond a recommendation made two years ago that Britain should build only one more major atomic facility.

After years of waiting for a signal, the document was read by nuclear industry executives as evidence that energy policy could be shifting their way. They anticipate the government may soon look more favorably on nuclear after more than a decade of tilting toward renewables. Electricite de France SA, Hitachi Ltd. and China General Nuclear Power Corp are looking at ways to revive designs that were shelved in the past few years.

“Large-scale projects have a bright future in Britain if the government backs a financing model to cut the cost of capital,” said Tom Greatrex, chief executive officer of the Nuclear Industry Association. “There are a number of viable sites. We need low-carbon power that we can count on to fill the gaps when the wind is down.”

For its part, government insists its policy on nuclear hasn’t changed — even with all the debate about exiting the European Union. It’s allowing EDF to seek planning permission for the Sizewell plant in east England, but ministers have been quiet about what, if any, further plants might win favor.

Full story
 
5) Renewable energy disaster threatens to destroy thousands of jobs
GWPF, 12 December 2020

Nottingham City Council ‘at risk of bankruptcy’ as green debt piles up, putting thousands of jobs at risk.



















A few months ago, Nottingham City Council announced that it had lost tens of millions of pounds of public cash after its renewable energy company Robin Hood Energy (RHE) had collapsed with the loss of 230 ‘green’ jobs.
 
News reports have suggested that the taxpayers of Nottingham will be out of pocket to the tune of £38.1 million. Robin Hood Energy also owes £12 million in environmental taxes to the Government, but has said it is not likely to be able to pay.
 
Now, the BBC is reporting that Nottingham City Council is facing bankruptcy.
 
Instead of creating hundreds of green jobs, Nottingham’s renewable energy disasters and the looming bankruptcy of the Labour-run council threatens the city with a freeze on non-essential spending, putting thousands of real jobs at risk.



 
 
 




Nottingham City Council is at risk of having to declare bankruptcy without a significant bailout, a government inspector has warned.
 
A rapid review of the authority’s finances was ordered following the collapse of its company Robin Hood Energy.
 
It found the council could not afford to approve a legally-required budget for 2021-22 as it stands.
 
Nottingham City Council said it accepted the review’s findings.
 
The investigation was instigated by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government after the collapse of Robin Hood Energy.
 
The council had set up the not-for-profit firm in 2015, claiming it was the first local authority-run energy company in the UK.
 
It aimed to tackle fuel poverty but lost more than £38m and collapsed with the loss of 230 jobs.


Full story  
 
6) Robert Bryce: For nuclear energy to flourish, we need a ‘mindset reversal’ about radiation
Forbes, 24 November 2020

The future of nuclear power projects in the UK and elsewhere hinges on disabusing the public of its excessive fear of radiation. 
 
Nuclear energy must grow – and grow rapidly – if the countries of the world are to have any hope of limiting the growth of carbon dioxide emissions. 
 
But the growth of nuclear is being hobbled by several factors including cost and the long licensing and construction schedules for new reactors. Those high costs and long schedules can largely be traced back to a single issue: the public’s excessive fear of radiation. That excessive fear of radiation is preventing nuclear energy from being deployed at scale here in the U.S. and around the world and in doing so, it is hindering low-income and wealthy countries alike from benefiting from the single best source of low-cost, zero-carbon, high-power-density electricity known to science. 
 
Despite this fear — and the mistaken belief that any radiation is dangerous — the truth is that we are constantly being hit with radiation from our surroundings. In fact, the radiation we get from flying in jetliners or having a CT scan is as great, or greater, than the radiation that is absorbed by the people who live close to Chernobyl or Fukushima.
 
Don’t take my word for it. Those are points that Dr. Geraldine Thomas, the director of the Chernobyl Tissue Bank, has been making for years. Gerry, as she prefers to be called, has a PhD. in pathology and is a faculty member at Imperial College London. Since the early 1990s, she has been overseeing the collection and banking of tissue samples from people who’ve had surgery after being exposed to radiation in the fallout area near the Chernobyl nuclear plant in northern Ukraine. Her work at Chernobyl and Fukushima makes her uniquely qualified to assess the risks from radiation. 
 
In 2011, She wrote a piece in The Guardian about the wrong-headed fear of radiation in the aftermath of the Fukushima accident. “The recent frenzy following the events in Japan suggests that the media are keen to feed our nuclear fears, by focusing on exposure to radiation that is extremely unlikely to result in a single death, compared with a natural catastrophe that has killed at least 20,000 people and displaced more than 100,000.” She continued, “Radiation risk must be put into context. The consequences for the most-exposed group of atomic bomb survivors was an average loss of life expectancy significantly lower than that caused by severe obesity or smoking.”
 
During a recent episode of the Power Hungry Podcast, Thomas told me that most people have difficulty making sense of radiation dosing and what constitutes a dangerous dose. The amount of radiation a person gets from a whole-body CT scan is about 10 millisieverts, which, she explained, is about the same dose incurred by people living near Chernobyl get “spread out over 20-odd years.” 

Full post
 
see also GWPF report Dangers Of nuclear energy ‘much less than previously thought’
 
7) Car makers warn electric car plans are “far removed from reality”
Auto Express, 10 December 2020

European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association calculates if EU targets of 30 million EVs by 2030 are to be met, their numbers must rise by almost 5,000%


 
Plans from the European Union to have 30 million electric cars on the road by 2030 are “far removed from today’s reality”, according to an association that represents the Continent’s car makers.
 
The European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association (ACEA) highlights that last year, just 0.25 per cent (615,000) of the 243 million cars in the EU are zero-emission electric models
 
To meet the target, set for just nine years in the future, that those 615,000 EVs rise in number to 30 million, the ACEA highlights that close to a 50-fold increase in numbers would be required. That’s equivalent to a 4,778 per cent rise in the number of electric cars on the road.
 
“Unfortunately this vision is far removed from today’s reality,” the ACEA’s director general, Eric-Mark Huitema warned. Highlighting that car makers in Europe already spend “much” of their annual €60.9-billion research and development budget on decarbonisation, Huitema added that “not all the right conditions are in place to make such a massive leap” into such exponential growth of electric cars. 
 
The ACEA also warns that it considers a further three million public chargepoints will be required by 2030 to reach these goals from the 200,000 points that existed in 2019. That means a 15-fold increase is needed to bridge the gap.
 
Full story
 
8) Covid-19 pandemic to leave millions more petrol cars on the road past 2030
The Times, 14 December 2020

The delayed purchase of new cars during the pandemic will leave millions of additional “gas guzzlers” on the road well into the 2030s, according to new research.
 
A study published today said that a 30 per cent drop in the number of cars sold this year could have a devastating long-term impact on the drive to cut greenhouse gas emissions and roadside pollution.
 
The research by leading universities said that the economic downturn sparked by the pandemic would mean “less disposable income for new cars”, with motorists possibly delaying the purchase of more expensive electric vehicles until prices come down.
 
The shift away from buying new cars — possibly by as much as four years — would leave one million more diesel vehicles on Britain’s roads by 2025 than previously thought, it was claimed.
 
Full story (£)
 
 
9) Vijay Jayaraj: UN’s call for ‘climate emergency’ is an invitation to misery in developing countries
GWPF, 14 December 2020

The UN has called for world leaders to declare a climate emergency. For hundreds of million in the developing world this agenda is threatening continuing energy poverty.





 












A declaration of climate emergency (as per UN’s emission reduction requirements) will dent the developmental goals and increase energy prices. Besides, it will also result in the tax payers funded transition to a less reliable energy system, a recipe for a potential economic collapse.
 
A precursor to the COP26 meeting in the UK next year
 
Speaking at the Climate Ambition Summit to mark the 5th anniversary of the Paris Agreement, UN chief Antonio Guterres implored, “Today, I call on all leaders worldwide to declare a State of Climate Emergency in their countries until carbon neutrality is reached.”
 
He further clarified that,
 
"We need meaningful cuts now to reduce global emissions by 45 per cent by 2030 compared with 2010 levels. This must be fully reflected in the revised and strengthened Nationally Determined Contributions that the Paris signatories are obliged to submit well before COP26 next year in Glasgow.”
 
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson committed 11.6 billion pounds of UK’s overseas aid to support green technology. Pakistan’s prime minister Imran Khan pledged not to build any new coal plants in the country.
 
Support for the UN leader’s call also came from the Chinese President Xi Jinping. He said China will cut down carbon dioxide emissions per unit of GDP by over 65% by 2030, in comparison to 2005. Given its status as the leading coal consumer and empoweree of fossil fuel technology in other developing countries, it remains to be seen how President Xi will reconcile his 65% commitment with Beijing’s fossil ambitions and energy intensive industries.
 
Speaking at the same event (virtually), the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi said that India will reduce emission intensity by 21% in comparison to the 2005 levels. Earlier this year, Modi had indicated that the country is aiming to reduce carbon footprint by 30% to 35% and increasing the use of natural gas, without setting a deadline for the same.
 
Even as per its ambitious scenario to reduce emissions, India will not be able to achieve a 45 percent reduction in CO2 emissions compared to 2010 levels without compromising on its aggressive energy policy that has enabled the country to achieve an energy surplus in recent years.
 
Studies on the relationship between GDP and energy growth indicate that “It is very difficult to reconcile reductions in carbon dioxide emissions with continued economic growth, especially in poor and medium rich countries,” as most of the world’s primary energy comes from fossil fuels.
 
A call for 45 percent reduction in carbon dioxide emission will be suicidal for the energy sectors in the developing world, most of which depend on coal, oil, and Natural gas. 84% of the world’s primary energy comes from Fossil fuels (2019) and just 11% coming from Renewables. Though the share of fossil fuels in global energy consumption may appear to be reducing by a small margin each year, the absolute value of consumption keeps increasing each year.
 
Despite the rapid addition of renewable technology globally, the year-on-year change in primary energy consumption value for both renewable and fossil sources were almost the same in 2019, i.e., an increase consumption of around 960 TWh for both the sources. The actual fossil fuel consumption has technically increased and will continue to increase in future, as developing economies are vary of falling back in the dark ages of energy poverty.
 
Riding on the renewable energy myth
 
Developing nation’s precaution with green transition has a reason.  Gueterres claimed that “Renewable energy is getting less expensive with every passing day.” But the claim is disputed, at least as per the current state of renewable technology, their backup mechanisms, and the evidence from the existing green grids.
 
Data from renewable energy dominated states like California and from countries like Germany and UK, show that excessive investment and dependency on renewable energy has actually resulted in increased electricity prices.
 
Renewable energy like wind and solar, which in many instances is installed with subsidies from taxpayer’s money, ends up charging the taxpayer more for their electricity use, thus technically costing the taxpayer not once but twice.
 
Full post
 
10) Former environment senator Fritz Vahrenholt: “We are threatened by a dramatic loss of prosperity”
Hamburger Abendblatt, 11 December 2020
 
Fritz Vahrenholt was a mastermind of Germany’s ecological movement, Senator for the environment and wind manager. Today he questions Germany’s costly climate policy.
 

Fritz Vahrenholt
 
Hamburg. Fritz Vahrenholt has shaped the environmental debate in Germany like hardly anyone else: His book “Seveso ist ├╝berall” (1976) denounced the conditions in the chemical industry, his atlas “Die Lage der Nation” (1983) assessed the environmental policy in the country.

In 1984, he joined the Hamburg environmental authority as a state councillor, and was the Senator for Environment from 1991 to 1997. The social democrat and SPD politician then moved into the business world and, from 2001, built up the wind energy manufacturer Repower. From 2008 to 2012, Vahrenholt worked as managing director of the newly founded RWE Innogy GmbH.

In recent years, the doctor of chemistry has become one of the sharpest critics of German climate protection policy. Since being fired from the Wildlife Foundation because of his views, he has made the topic his “main activity”, as he says. In his new book Unerw├╝nschte Wahrheiten (Unwanted Truths) and on his blog, the 71-year-old deals with climate development and the consequences of climate policy.
 
Hamburger Abendblatt: Do you actually like arguing, Mr. Vahrenholt?
Fritz Vahrenholt No, not really. What makes you think so?
 
HA: In your new book “Unwanted Truths” you are taking on the entire climate science…
 
FV: Do I? I am not denying the need for action or climate change itself – I am just coming to different conclusions about the scale or pace of it. I believe that it is not only humans who are responsible for climate change, but that natural factors are also at work. So we have more time than is often said.
 
HA: How did you come up with that?
 
FV: There is one aspect in the climate debate that I find far too brief. Our reference value is always the year 1850, the beginning of the industrial age. But what hardly anyone knows is that the Little Ice Age, the coldest period in the last 2000 years, ended then. The average value of the last 2000 years alone is about 0.4 degrees higher than in 1850 – completely without the greenhouse effect.
 
HA: You represent a minority position …
 
FV: Maybe, but that doesn’t mean it has to be wrong. Compare that with the subject of dying forests. At the beginning of the 1980s there was a consensus that the German forest would disappear because of acid rain. I suspected as much. Almost forty years later we know that the science was wrong. Science must be open to question. But that is no longer possible because of the intertwining of science and politics.
 
Full interview

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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