Wednesday, December 21, 2022

Net Zero Watch: Europe's energy crisis may be even worse in coming years


In this newsletter:

1) Europe's energy crisis may be even worse in coming years 
Reuters, 19 December 2022
2) Europe's energy crisis is just getting started, 19 December 2022 
3) Benny Peiser's big warning to Americans: Avoid Europe's green energy disaster
The Heritage Foundation, Washington DC, 6 December 2022 
4) EU’s trading partners accuse bloc of protectionism over carbon tax plan
Financial Times, 17 December 2022
5) Green Britain: Brits face forced entry to their homes by energy firms to fit prepayment meters
iNews, 20 December 2022
6) Roger Pileke Jr.: Don't believe the hype
The Honest Broker, 19 December 2022
7) Chris Morrison: How billionaires fill the media with climate fear and panic
The Daily Sceptic, 20 December 2022
8) Michael Munger: Green energy is the modern “Broken Window”
9) Francis Mention: On to the great future of offshore wind power
Manhattan Contrarian, 19 December 2022
10) James Freeman: The cold, windy voyage to alternative energy
The Wall Street Journal, 19 December 2022

Full details:

1) Europe's energy crisis may be even worse in coming years 
Reuters, 19 December 2022

Europe faces a much tougher task to rebuild gas stocks next year compared with this winter, meaning energy bills are likely to stay high and governments could have to implement painful rationing measures they have so far avoided.

Previously dominant, gas supplies from Russia have since late August been greatly reduced, meaning the task of refilling storage will be much harder when levels are depleted by early next year.

The expense of buying gas on the open market rather than through contracts negotiated at favourable prices will also be harder to bear for governments weakened by months of steep energy costs that have driven inflation to multi-decade highs.

This year, the European Union successfully filled reserves to a peak of 96%-full in November to try to ensure sufficient winter supplies.

Countries also managed to restrain use during unusually mild weather but a prolonged cold snap this month has focused minds on the scale of the task ahead.

"Many of the circumstances that allowed EU countries to fill their storage sites ahead of this winter may well not be repeated in 2023," Fatih Birol, Executive Director of Paris-based International Energy Agency (IEA) said last week.

The IEA said Europe could face a shortfall of almost 30 billion cubic metres (bcm) next winter, equivalent to nearly 7% of 2021 demand.
Full story
2) Europe's energy crisis is just getting started, 19 December 2022


While Europe managed to fill its gas storage ahead of winter this year, it will have to import huge amounts of LNG in a competitive market to survive next winter. The next 12 to 24 months will be critical in establishing whether Europe can stave off a long-term energy crisis.
According to the IEA, if Russian gas supply drops to zero and Chinese LNG demand hits 2021 levels, the EU could have a supply-demand gap of 27 billion cubic meters in 2023.

Despite successfully filling its gas storage ahead of winter this year, Europe’s energy crisis is far from over. The situation for Europe could, in fact, be worse next winter when Russian pipeline gas supply will be down to a trickle, at best.
European households and businesses have already seen a rise in total energy costs by $1.06 trillion (1 trillion euros), according to estimates by European economic think-tank Bruegel published by the International Monetary Fund (IMF). According to Bruegel’s analysts, if governments in Europe do nothing except offer financial support, and if they cover the price increases, this sum would represent a massive 6% of the annual GDP of the EU.
“Massive government support could delay adjustment to a new price equilibrium and create the need for even more support,” Bruegel’s experts say.
Instead, the EU needs a “grand bargain” to encourage savings and increase supply at the same time.
The next 12 to 24 months will determine whether Europe will be able to cope with the energy crisis without having to resort to mandatory rationing or without losing too much industry competitiveness.
Europe’s energy systems were already put to the first real test this month amid an Arctic blast that swept through most of northwestern Europe, bringing freezing temperatures, snow in the UK, and depressing wind speeds in Germany.
Natural gas storage sites in the EU started to drain, with storage at 84% as of December 17, according to Gas Infrastructure Europe. Inventories are higher than at this time last year, but the true test for Europe will come next year when it will have to refill gas storage sites adequately enough to meet the 2023/2024 winter demand.
This is where the planning becomes trickier, depending on how low inventories will be after this winter and whether the EU has the capacity to haul in continued record volumes of LNG and continue outbidding Asia, especially if demand in China rebounds after a reopening from strict Covid curbs.
With lower gas consumption and not much Russian gas flowing via pipelines, the EU has continued to cut its dependence on Russia, from around 40% of imported gas supplies before the Russian invasion of Ukraine, to less than 9%, according to EU figures from September.
However, the significant drop in Russian gas supply this year occurred only in June.
Ahead of winter 2023/2024, the gap in gas supply in Europe will be much wider without Russian gas. Europe will not be importing much Russian gas—or none at all if Russia cuts off deliveries via the one link left operational via Ukraine and via TurkStream—compared to relatively stable imports from Russia in the first half of this year before Moscow started gradually cutting volumes via Nord Stream in June and then shut down the pipeline in early September.
According to a recent report from the IEA, if Russian gas supply drops to zero and Chinese LNG demand rebounds to 2021 levels, the EU could have a gas supply-demand gap of 27 billion cubic meters in 2023.
With the plunge in Russian pipeline gas deliveries, Europe will need “huge volumes” of LNG next year, commodity trader Trafigura said earlier this month.
“Looking forward, we expect gas and LNG markets to remain volatile,” Trafigura said in its annual report for the year to September 30. 
“While Europe should avoid a blackout this winter by drawing on inventories and cutting demand, it will need to import huge volumes of LNG in 2023 given the massive reduction in flows from Russia,” Trafigura said.
Natural gas prices in Europe will have to remain elevated so that the continent can continue to attract most of the LNG cargoes in competition with the other key demand centers, according to Trafigura. The commodity trader expects Europe to prioritize the security of supply “through next winter and beyond.” 
Huge uncertainties with weather and the EU’s ability to compete with a potential increase in LNG demand in Asia will determine how Europe will fare next winter.  
“Behind us now are two months of ‘buyer’s market’ with peak inventories, warm weather, a long queue of LNG ships, and depressed TTF prices,” commodity analysts Ole Hvalbye and Bjarne Schieldrop of SEB Bank said in early December.
“Ahead of us is the huge Q1 uncertainty and at least 12 months of ‘seller’s market’ as the race is on to fill EU nat gas inventories to a satisfying level by October 2023.”
3) Benny Peiser's big warning to Americans: Avoid Europe's green energy disaster
The Heritage Foundation, Washington DC, 6 December 2022 

Benny Peiser:  "I remember giving evidence to a Senate hearing here some years back, and I was saying: 'Look, as long as these [climate] policies are unilateral, as long as you do this on your own, this is not going to address your main concern, which is CO2 emissions, because the rest of the world will not follow.'
And the rest of the world will definitely not follow Europe's green experiment which is going so badly. No one wants to do what the Europeans are doing, because they can see the damage we are doing to ourselves.
Unless -- and this is the whole point -- unless you can come up with an energy policy that is attractive to other countries, in particular to poorer countries, they will not follow your lead.
And that's the real problem: In Europe, we are degrading our own economy and degrading our nations, in the name of saving the planet without doing anything about CO2 emissions because we are just shifting them abroad, we're just exporting them. That is at the core of all these 27 COPs we've seen over the last 30 years. It's always the same old, it's always the same outcome. The developing world, China, India, etc. are not going to risk their own economies, the well-being of their people, their energy security, their national security. We're doing it and we're paying the price for it.
And this is the biggest warning to Americans: If you want to avoid your energy bills going up fourfold, don't do what we are doing."
4) EU’s trading partners accuse bloc of protectionism over carbon tax plan
Financial Times, 17 December 2022

Brussels negotiations continue as world-first levy faces criticism from US, China and African nations

The EU’s trading partners have hit out at the bloc’s plan to introduce the world’s first carbon border tax, saying it is protectionist and puts export industries at risk, as negotiations to complete the deal stretch into the weekend.

According to two people familiar with the discussions, several developing nations have already begun to negotiate with Brussels for more flexibility in the proposals, including potential waivers.

The plan is provisional until a final set of talks conclude this weekend. After that the agreement must be approved by EU ambassadors. Issues outstanding include the specific dates for its gradual phase-in.

German lawmaker Michael Bloss, a European parliament negotiator, said on Saturday that “a lot was negotiated” on Friday but “little was decided”. The talks “will continue and hopefully conclude the negotiations on Europe’s largest climate protection package”, he told Reuters.

Swedish lawmaker Emma Wiesner said Friday’s talks had achieved a “surprisingly big amount of progress”. Other EU officials told Reuters that deals had not yet been found on the most divisive issues.

The tax will require importers to buy certificates to cover their emissions based on calculations linked to the EU’s own carbon price. Iron, steel, cement, aluminium, fertilisers, hydrogen and electricity generation will all be covered by the deal. A trial period is set to start in October 2023.

If it is considered a success, the EU plans to expand the scheme to other sectors, including cars and organic chemicals.

The plan has attracted criticism from countries including the US and South Africa, which said that the carbon border adjustment mechanism (CBAM) will unfairly penalise their manufacturers.

“We are particularly concerned about things like border adjustment taxes, and regulatory requirements that are imposed unilaterally,” Ebrahim Patel, South Africa’s trade minister, told the Financial Times. “If it gets to be an enormous defining thing between north and south, you’re going to have a lot of political resistance.”

“There are a lot of concerns coming from our side about how this is going to impact us and our trade relationship,” US trade representative Katherine Tai said at a conference in Washington this week.

The EU views the CBAM as a core part of its efforts to reach net zero emissions by 2050, arguing that it will simultaneously encourage countries outside the bloc to decarbonise their industrial sectors.

“CBAM is just a way to threaten third countries that they should also update their ambitions when it comes to climate,” said Mohammed Chahim, a Dutch socialist politician who has led negotiations on the law for the European parliament.

Before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, it was set to be the country that was most affected by the CBAM. Russian exports made up the biggest proportion of imports from CBAM-affected sectors, according to an analysis by the Berlin-based think-tank Adelphi based on data for EU imports between 2015 and 2019.

The substantial fall in imports from Russia due to the EU’s sanctions regime and the destruction of Ukrainian industry has pushed the burden on to other countries.

China makes up around a tenth of affected imports, according to Adelphi, with Turkey and India also hit. China has frequently attacked the tariff since it was first proposed in July last year.

Developing nations with less economic heft and no systems in place for measuring emissions were more likely to suffer the most from the introduction of the levy, said Faten Aggad, senior adviser on climate diplomacy at the African Climate Foundation.

“The countries that are most likely to mitigate the risk of CBAM are the ones that already have proper carbon counting,” she said. The result could be a “deindustrialisation” in African nations that export to the EU.

“A lot of these sectors risk losing business unless we pump money into their sustainability and it’s very difficult to rebuild.”

Steelmakers in Brazil are concerned that the CBAM will put domestic producers at risk. Instead of shipping their goods to Europe, exporters might target less protected steel markets such as South America.

“Our big worry isn’t exports to [Europe],” said Marco Polo de Mello Lopes, executive president of the Instituto Aço Brasil, but rather that more material is diverted to the region, leaving domestic industry “vulnerable”.

Anger at the measure has been exacerbated by the EU’s insistence that the CBAM will encourage others to decarbonise, while not providing funds to help poorer countries invest in clean technologies.

Revenues from the CBAM are intended to go into the EU’s internal budget with a loose commitment to provide climate finance to countries outside the bloc, according to those familiar with the draft text.

Baran Bozoğlu, chair of the Climate Change Policy and Research Association, a non-profit research outfit in Ankara, said that it would be “beneficial [for the EU] to provide various incentives, supports and technologies so that the Turkish economy is not adversely affected”.

He added that exporters would have to pay to calculate their carbon emissions and have that validated in order to report to the EU. It was a “great injustice” that they had to cover that cost as well as pay the CBAM, he said.
5) Green Britain: Brits face forced entry to their homes by energy firms to fit prepayment meters
iNews, 20 December 2022

Energy firms are being handed the right to force their way into thousands of customer homes without justice officials knowing why the warrants are being granted, it can be revealed.

An investigation by i has discovered how magistrates are batch-processing hundreds of warrants in just minutes to allow debt agents acting on behalf of suppliers to force entry into homes to fit controversial prepayment meters.

The Ministry of Justice has now admitted it has no record of why access to homes has been sought, whether to forcibly install the meters or for other reasons.

It also said that, once inside a customer’s home, the energy firm could “exercise any other right of entry while there”.

The admission has raised further doubts about the level of oversight for warrants being issued by courts to energy firms to force entry into properties. It has also prompted accusations of a legal “wild west” leaving some of the UK’s poorest families at risk of having no gas or electricity this Christmas.

MPs have urged the Government to halt the forced installations this winter, telling the Commons in a two-hour debate they fear a “conveyor belt” of warrants is leaving vulnerable customers in the cold and dark – including terminally ill people returning home to die.

Caroline Lucas MP said: “These court warrants on masse are being carried out with disgraceful lack of due diligence and care.

“Ministers have serious questions to answer. What specific reasoning is behind each of these forced-entry warrants, why they’re being rushed through at breakneck speed without proper verification and how on earth they have been allowed to happen in the first place?

“These court warrants amount to a mass exploitation of the vulnerable and the voiceless – and they must be banned immediately.”
Full story
6) Roger Pileke Jr.: Don't believe the hype
The Honest Broker, 19 December 2022
Global Disasters in 2022, a Preliminary Assessment

In September, United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres made the following claims upon the release of a report — titled ironically enough — United in Science:
"Floods, droughts, heatwaves, extreme storms and wildfires are going from bad to worse, breaking records with ever alarming frequency. Heatwaves in Europe. Colossal floods in Pakistan. Prolonged and severe droughts in China, the Horn of Africa and the United States.
There is nothing natural about the new scale of these disasters. They are the price of humanity’s fossil fuel addiction. The number of weather, climate and water-related disasters has increased by a factor of five over the past 50 years."
As I and others have documented, Guterres claim of an 500% increase in disasters is pure misinformation. You will never find a more obviously and egregious wrong claim in public discussions from a more important institution. Making matters worse, the false notion of a massive increase in disasters is legitimized by none other than the World Meteorological Organization, one of the founding bodies of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
I’ve spend almost 30 years working to understand trends in disasters, and the roles played by (a) societal vulnerability and exposure and (b) climate variability and change. Along the way I’ve observed a concerted and successful effort by climate advocates to create and spread disinformation about disasters, knowing full well that virtually all journalists and scientists will stay silent and allow the false information to spread unchecked — and sometimes they will even help to amplify it.
Readers here will well know that the actual science of weather and climate extremes and disasters that may be associated with them is far more nuanced and less apocalyptic than typically found in much of the public discourse. The scientific reality does not diminish the importance of climate mitigation policy, but it does say something about standards of scientific integrity.
In today’s post, I share some preliminary information related to global disasters of 2022. The information available today is incomplete — the year isn’t quite over and not all data analyses have been done and those that have are just a first cut. However, the information that is available today allows us to get a pretty good initial look at disasters of 2022 in historical perspective.
To be sure, 2022 saw some notable weather and climate-related disasters, including among them:

* flooding in Pakistan, South Africa, Nigeria, India, United States, and Brazil

* drought in Europe, Eastern Africa and China

* Hurricane Ian in Florida
Preliminary estimates are that as many as 11,000 people died around the world in weather and climate-related disasters in 2022, which is just about the average of the previous decade, according to data of the Centre for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters. The overall 2022 death rate for weather and climate disasters was about 0.14 people per million, representing one of the 5 lowest annual death rates since data is available (dating to more than a century ago) — and I’d venture in all of recorded human history. The years with lower death rates are all recent: 2021, 2018, 2017, 2016 and 2014. It was just 30 years ago in 1992 that the global death rate from weather and climate disasters was more than 20x greater, at 2.90 per million. The diminishing human impact of disasters is a science and policy success story that is widely underappreciated.
Let’s take a look at some high-level initial data on disasters of 2022 to help get a sense of how the year fits into recent history. Here I focus on the total number of weather and climate disasters and their aggregate economic impacts. In a future post, I’ll discuss some specifics in more detail, including well-below average global tropical cyclone activity of 2022 and record-low emissions from forest and other fires. Detailed information on global floods and drought of 2022 will need to await further data and analyses. You can see my recent post with a detailed look at the U.S. specifically here.

Total Count of Global Disasters


Source: CRED. The estimate of 325 for 2022 is based on 300 weather, climate and water disasters through November, plus 27 estimated for December (=300/11).
The graph above shows that according to CRED EM-DAT — which is the same database that WMO and Guterres based their false claims on, but I digress — 2022 will see about 330 total disasters, under the EM-DAT criteria for inclusion. The 2022 count will be just about the average of the past decade and about 10% less than annual disaster counts of the first decade of this century. The broader impacts of these disasters (deaths, economic losses) are consistent with these trends as well.

Based on these data, which are viewed by CRED to be reliable since 2000, there is no indication that the number of global weather and climate disasters are increasing. That means that — undeniably — there is no evidence to support another false claim by the U.N that, “The number of disaster events is projected to reach 560 a year – or 1.5 each day, statistically speaking – by 2030.” (Have a look here.)

I am curious: When are journalists going to start reporting the facts about disasters and call out misinformation?
Global Losses from Disasters

Updated from Pielke 2019. Note: 2022 losses are estimated based on preliminary estimates from Swiss Re and 2022 GDP growth estimated based on IMF. Final numbers may be higher or lower, and more losses may yet occur in the remaining days of 2022.
The global reinsurance giant, Swiss Re, has projected that 2022 will see a total of $260 billion in total catastrophe losses. Based on this estimate, and an estimate of the IMF for 2022 global GDP growth, we can project that 2022 global weather and climate disaster losses will be about 0.2% of global GDP. That is just about the same as the median of 1990 to 2021. However, over that time period, losses have decreased (as a proportion of GDP) as you can see in the figure above, which updates a peer-reviewed analysis that I first published in 2019.
The past 6 years have seen a higher level of loss/GDP as compared to the previous decade, which can be attributed in large part to the “drought” of major hurricanes striking the United States over that period, 2005-2017. Of note, U.S. hurricane losses historically comprise more than 60% “global” disaster losses. There is also no indication of a dramatic acceleration in disaster losses as a percentage of global GDP that was forecast in the Stern Review more than 15 years ago. So whenever you read about “billion dollar disasters” and their purported association with climate change, I want you to think of just one word - disinformation.
Bottom Line at the Global Level
Disasters are awful — people die and are displaced, property and infrastructure is damaged and destroyed, and economies can be compromised. Planet Earth is a place of extremes. Hurricanes, floods, drought, heat waves and other types of extreme events are normal and always have been.
But to be sure, the prospect of human-caused climate change holds the potential for making extreme events more common or worse. For instance, there is already good evidence that heat waves have become more intense in many places and that increase is attributable to increasing greenhouse gases. However, for most types of weather and climate extremes neither detection of trends nor attribution of trends to human climate forcings has been achieved.
Don’t take it from me, take it from the IPCC.
At the same time, the ability of societies to prepare for and recover from extreme events is a remarkable story of policy success — deaths related to disasters have plummeted from millions per year a century ago to thousands per year over the past decade. That is still too many, but we should recognize that it also represents an enormous accomplishment. We can and should do more.
Unfortunately nowadays, every weather and climate disasters becomes enlisted as a sort of “poster child” for climate advocacy. Every extreme event and associated human impact is quickly turned into a symbol of something else— such as failed energy policies, rapacious fossil fuel companies, evil politicians, or callous jet-setting billionaires. It is a simple and powerful narrative, and one that is also incredibly misleading.
Full post
7) Chris Morrison: How billionaires fill the media with climate fear and panic
The Daily Sceptic, 20 December 2022

The popular prints are flooded with climate and weather misinformation. Net Zero, seen by increasing numbers of people as a looming disaster, is lauded to the skies. Few journalists investigate the ‘unsettled’ science behind unproven claims that humans cause most, if not all, changes in the climate.
To point out that there are not enough minerals in the ground to make batteries to power humanity’s basic transportation needs, let alone store the energy required to keep us all alive in the cold when renewables go on strike, is simply not allowed. Needless to say, as we have seen in a number of recent Daily Sceptic articles, this absurd state of affairs is partly the product of a carefully-curated public discourse targeting cash-strapped news rooms and funded by a vast supply of dark, green money.
Recently I reported that the Mirror had run a nonsense story about much of London disappearing beneath the waves within 80 years. I noted that this was not the handiwork of a crack team of investigative reporters, but rather the placed work of a U.S. green activist group called Climate Central. This operation specialises in ready-to-publish climate change material highlighting local landmarks allegedly due to disappear beneath the waves. Similar tactics are used by another activist group spreading fear and alarm called Covering Climate Now (CC Now). This operation is run out of the Columbia Journalism Review in New York, and is backed by the Nation and the U.K. Guardian. Both operations rely heavily on large gifts from Left-leaning U.S. foundations.
CC Now was started in 2019 and claims to feed over 500 media operations with written stories and climate narratives. Its “partners” include some of the biggest names in news publishing such as  Reuters,  Bloomberg,  Agence France-Presse (AFP), CBS News, ABC News  and MSNBC News. Leading journals are said to include Rolling Stone, Huff Post and Teen Vogue. The founders seek a “reframing” of the way journalists cover climate change. What this means in practice is amplifying an invented ‘climate emergency’ by constant story catastrophisation, while denying any inconvenient science. The political aim is the promotion of the command-and-control Net Zero agenda.

There is plenty of advice for tame journalists aiming to ramp up climate hysteria. “The fastest way to catch up is to emulate outlets that are already covering climate change well. You can’t do better than the Guardian,” CC Now suggests. But what to do about the problem that paying readers tend to disappear when fed a diet of spun political messages? “Foundations like Knight, Ford, McCormick and Emerson Collective are rightly increasing their support for local news organisations,” it adds.

Relentless catastrophising of individual weather events is the favoured weapon to spread climate fear among the wider population. Using the recent experience of the Covid pandemic, activists have been emboldened to spread panic and alarm in controllable media to achieve their wider political aims. Despite oft-made claims, it is impossible to use models to ‘attribute’ single weather events to long term changes in the climate. CC Now skirts this obvious problem by providing a number of helpful explanations for gullible journalists to copy-and-paste.
“Climate change isn’t solely to blame for extreme weather, but… it stacks the deck against us… it’s baked in with our weather and often a key ingredient in the outcome… it supercharges normal weather patterns, like steroids.” Journalists are told to emphasise the human impacts of extreme weather, noting that it affects “the poor, communities of colour, and indigenous groups first and foremost”.
All this sterling work, of course, deserves prizes. The 2022 CC Now Journalism Awards “honoured” writers producing the “strongest coverage of the onrushing climate emergency and its abundant solutions”. Winners are said to have come from the Guardian, AFP, Al Jazeera, PBS NewsHour and the Los Angeles Times. Journalist of the Year was Time Senior Correspondent Justin Worland. The judges singled out for particular praise an article he wrote ahead of COP26 titled, “The Energy Transition in Full Swing. It’s Not Happening Fast Enough“.
Billionaire-run foundations are spending enormous sums promoting junk alarmist science, in addition to funding on-side academic institutions and other influential bodies. Both Climate Central and CC Now are funded by the Rockefeller Foundation, while Climate Central takes support from the Grantham fund. This latter foundation is connected with the green billionaire investor Jeremy Grantham, and also partly funds three U.K. university institutes. At the LSE, this operation provides material that supports the Net Zero initiatives. 
Jeremy Grantham is a long-time promoter of Net Zero and a future based on renewables. But it is not only journalists he has in his sights. Speaking in 2019 to a group of business people in Copenhagen about the approaching apocalypse, he asked rhetorically, “What should I do, you say”? His suggestion: “You should lobby your Government officials – invest in an election and buy some politicians. I am happy to say we do quite a bit of that at the Grantham Foundation… any candidate as long as they are green.”

The science writer and climatologist Dr. Judith Curry has become increasingly concerned about the effect of all this propaganda on children. In a recent essay, she wrote that it was difficult to avoid the conclusion that children are being used as tools in adults’ political agenda surrounding climate change. This is having adverse impacts on the mental health of children, she warned. The apocalyptic rhetoric surrounding the climate ‘crisis’ has numerous victims, she added. “Children and young adults rank among the victims of greatest concern.”
Full post
8) Michael Munger: Green energy is the modern “Broken Window”

John Goodell studied literature at Berkeley, then got an M.F.A. at Columbia. He has edited Zyzzyva, a literary magazine in San Francisco, and been a contributing editor at Rolling Stone. Pretty impressive.
None of that qualifies him as a climate scientist or economist. So it’s surprising that web searches yield hundreds of solemn, even pious, invocations of Goodell’s economic wisdom: 
"In reality, studies show that investments to spur renewable energy and boost energy efficiency generate far more jobs than oil and coal."

I have not been able to find a source; the quote itself has become self-recommending, using authority by reference: “studies show…”  My good friend Russ Roberts often inveighs against the “studies show” formulation, but I think we have to give Goodell credit here. Studies really do show that dismantling, preferably destroying, the existing energy grid really would create jobs. The question is, why is maximizing jobs something we want to do?
Frederic Bastiat famously showed that destroying wealth creates jobs, in his discussion of the broken window fallacy.  But there was a broader context for Bastiat’s observations on the seen and the unseen: a serious proposal that all of Paris should be burned down.  Yes, because it would create jobs. Really.
Bastiat referred to research (“studies show!”) done by a fellow Frenchman on this score: 
"What will you say, disciples of good M. Chamans, who has calculated with so much precision how much trade would gain by the burning of Paris, from the number of houses it would be necessary to rebuild?" (From The Broken Window)
Now, it appears that Bastiat was having a little fun; Auguste Louis Philippe de Saint-Chamans (1777-1860) was a viscount and a high-level French government official.
Viscount de Saint-Chamans had argued that London’s “Great Fire” (1666) had led to substantial net economic gains; he had not said anything about Paris. 

Still, the point was portable: the increased use of resources, and substantial bump in construction employment, had increased economic activity in England by the equivalent of 25 million French francs. France should not be allowed to fall behind on the “destroy wealth to create jobs” race. Bastiat was just taking the Viscount at his word, improving the French economy by burning and rebuilding Paris.

It is worth reproducing Bastiat’s argument, from Economic Sophisms, at some length:
"I originally thought that we might base a great deal of hope on fire, without neglecting war or pestilence. To start fires at the four corners of Paris with a good west wind would certainly ensure the population the two major benefits that the protectionist regime has in view: work and high prices, or rather, work by means of high prices. 
Do you not see what an immense impetus the burning of Paris would give to national industry? Is there a single person who would not have enough work to last him twenty years? How many houses would there be to rebuild, items of furniture to restore, tools, instruments, fabrics, books, and pictures to replace! I can see from here the work that will move step by step and increase by itself like an avalanche, for a worker who is busy will give work to others, and these employ yet others…
What constitutes our wealth? Our needs, since without needs there is no wealth; without disease, no doctors; without wars, no soldiers; without court cases, no lawyers and judges. If windows did not break, glaziers would be gloomy; if houses did not crumble, if furniture was indestructible, how many trades would be held up! To destroy is to make it necessary for you to replace. To increase the number of needs is to increase wealth….
Either you believe that wealth consists in having more while working less, and therefore you allow [goods and products] to enter, or you think that it consists in having less with more work, and in this case, you burn Paris."
One wonders what Bastiat would say about the current movement now in vogue among those who propose to increase jobs by destroying all the production, transportation, and power-generation capital devoted to fossil fuels. Burn all the gas-powered cars? Jobs! Tear down all the oil and gas-powered power plants, so we have shortages of electricity? So many jobs!

Once you are duped into believing destruction is productive, almost everything that a rational public policy would label as a cost becomes, by some judo move of seraphic intuition, a benefit. If need is wealth, then it makes sense to outlaw fossil fuels immediately, because of all the jobs created trying desperately to provide basic transport and energy.
The problem is that jobs are not wealth. Wealth is access to the goods, products, and services that make our lives better. It is true that “studies show” that wiping out all our productive wealth based on fossil fuels efficiently would create jobs. Those “studies” are among the best arguments against doing anything of the sort.
If my choices are to have wealth but no job, or to have a job but no wealth, I’d rather have the wealth.  But we don’t have to choose: we can have both wealth and jobs, if we don’t go around breaking all the darned windows.

9) Francis Mention: On to the great future of offshore wind power
Manhattan Contrarian, 19 December 2022

Today was a big day on the way to New York’s energy future: Our “Climate Action Council” voted to approve the final “Scoping Plan,” telling us all how we are going to achieve, among other goals, 70% of statewide electricity from renewable energy sources by 2030 and a zero-emission electricity system by 2040.
The press release has the headline “New York State Climate Action Council Finalizes Scoping Plan to Advance Nation-Leading Climate Law.” Here also is a link to the Scoping Plan itself.
Taking a look at the Scoping Plan and its Executive Summary, I find that the two biggest elements in getting to this zero-emissions electricity system are supposedly going to be offshore wind turbines and energy storage. I’ve covered the energy storage issues extensively in other posts. But how about this offshore wind thing? Surely, to commit New York to transitioning to using offshore wind as the primary source of electricity only seven years from now, they must have a very solid game plan for how it is going to happen.
Actually, as with everything else here, they have no idea. As of today, there isn’t a single functioning offshore wind turbine in New York State, nor is there a single offshore wind turbine under construction. The climate cultists on the Climate Action Council think that they can just order this up, and then it will happen.
From the Executive Summary, here is what the CAC says will be necessary to achieve its emissions goals:
"[The Scoping Plan] requires that the State install:
6,000 megawatts (MW) of distributed solar by 2025
3,000 MW of energy storage by 2030
9,000 MW of offshore wind by 2035."
That 9,000 MW of offshore wind might initially sound like a lot. At 10 MW per turbine (huge), that would be 900 of these behemoths.

The EIA gives the total annual amount of electricity consumed in New York State for 2021 as 141,423,778 MWh. Divide by 8760 (hours in the year) and you get average demand of 16,144 MW. 9,000 MW starts off sounding like more than half of that. Not bad!
But of course wind turbines only generate at about 35% of capacity averaged over the year. So this 9,000 MW of offshore wind turbines will at best give us an average of about 3,000 MW, so well under 20% of our electricity demand for the year. Oh, and they’re planning to double electricity demand by electrifying cars and home heat, so make that 10%. And peak demand is as much as about 25,000 MW, 50,000 MW after doubling. When the peak hits you can’t count on the 9,000 MW of offshore wind for anything,. So why are we doing this again?
Undoubtedly, if this were being done competently, there must be a working demonstration project to show how the offshore wind will be built and then integrated into the existing system? Wrong. Rather, the plan appears to be to let some gigantic subsidized contracts and then hope that something gets built some day.
Here is a link to the website of the New York Energy Research and Development Agency (NYSERDA). They claim to have 4300 MW of offshore wind projects “under active development” in the state, which is less than half of the 9,000 MW supposedly coming. Of the 4,300 MW, almost all is in the Atlantic Ocean off New York City and Long Island.
Here is the key piece of their map:


But go to the Empire Wind website, for example, and you find a timeline indicating that they are just about up to the point of submitting applications for permits to federal and state authorities. Construction — if it ever actually occurs — is multiple years in the future. Nothing different over at the Beacon Wind website.
And what if well-funded environmental opposition emerges to these projects? That is almost inevitable. As an example, there have already been lawsuits by wealthy homeowners seeking to prevent cables from these windfarms from making landfall in their areas. Here is an example of one such brought in 2021 in the Town of East Hampton.
Full post & comments

10) James Freeman: The cold, windy voyage to alternative energy
The Wall Street Journal, 19 December 2022


This column has been making the case that replacing efficient forms of reliable energy with politically favored intermittent power sources is not as easy as it looks.
Some jurisdictions seeking to replace fossil fuels and/or nuclear plants with wind power may not have adequately considered the costs and benefits.
Perhaps no political class outside of California has been as hostile to cost/benefit analysis as the elected officials of Massachusetts. Now Jon Chesto reports for the Boston Globe:
"The state’s nascent offshore wind industry suffered a big setback on Friday when Avangrid told state regulators it wants to end its contracts with three major utilities to build a massive wind farm south of Martha’s Vineyard...In September, chief executive Pedro Azagra said Avangrid would postpone construction of Commonwealth Wind, which could eventually provide enough power for up to 750,000 homes, by pushing its completion date out to 2028, and would need to rewrite the contracts because of a sharp increase in commodity costs. With Friday’s move, Avangrid has given up on those renegotiation efforts."
Some readers may feel like they’ve been hearing about how close wind power is to commercial viability for virtually their entire lives. Regardless, this seems to be another reminder that the desires of politicians cannot change the underlying physics and economics. The Boston Globe report continues:
"This move just adds to the pressure on policy makers. Offshore wind power is considered crucial for Massachusetts to meet its ambitious goal of cutting greenhouse gas emissions in half by 2030 from 1990 levels. Representatives for the Baker administration and Governor-elect Maura Healey expressed disappointment with Avangrid’s decision."
This broad spectrum of disappointment brings us to another lesson: the fact that an idea is bipartisan does not mean it will work.

Another lesson that must constantly be taught to policy makers is that every method of producing energy brings with it some kind of environmental footprint, some costs along with the alleged benefits. There is no free lunch.
Even before the team behind Commonwealth Wind acknowledged their problem with economics, some of the locals were focusing on the footprint. Heather McCarron reported last month for the Cape Cod Times:
"To the residents of Osterville, Dowses Beach is perfect: A place of refuge for people, a sanctuary to a variety of wildlife and a delicate landscape that needs to be handled with extra special care. The beach, with its sweeping view of Nantucket Sound, is also perfect for offshore wind developer Avangrid Renwables... Avangrid is eyeing the beach to land three power cables – that will transmit a total of 1,200 kilowatts of electricity – from its Commonwealth Wind project, one of several commercial-scale, offshore wind projects with a lease to harness the winds south of Martha’s Vineyard....
Meanwhile, a number of the residents are circling their wagons, worried about the impacts the project could have on Dowses Beach – an estuarine environment they think is too fragile to carry such a large project... The group pointed out that the Dowses Beach estuarine system shelters at least two species of vulnerable birds – plovers and the least tern."
As for the economics, Commonwealth is not the only wind project under scrutiny. Alex Kuffner reported last month for the Providence Journal:
"Rhode Island utilities regulators are considering suspending Mayflower Wind’s application for transmission cables that would run up the Sakonnet River to the former site of the Brayton Point Power Station in Somerset after the developer raised questions about the financial viability of the first phases of the $5 billion offshore wind project it has proposed off Massachusetts.
The state Energy Facility Siting Board has ordered the company to demonstrate why the proceedings shouldn’t be stayed until the questions surrounding financing of the first 1,200 megawatts of the project are resolved."
It’s beginning to seem like replacing cheap and reliable energy production is complicated and costly. But politicians have made promises and of course not just in Massachusetts and Rhode Island.
The Garden State’s liberal electorate has been choosing politicians promoting allegedly green policies for years. Therefore purveyors of alternative energy might have expected nothing but warm greetings from Asbury Park, N.J.
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The London-based Net Zero Watch is a campaign group set up to highlight and discuss the serious implications of expensive and poorly considered climate change policies. The Net Zero Watch newsletter is prepared by Director Dr Benny Peiser - for more information, please visit the website at

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